Previewing the DCI Tour Premiere – Detroit, Mi.

The day has come soldiers! The start of the 2018 season is just mere hours away. All the mysteries about the upcoming season, for at least six drum corps, will be answered this evening.

Here is a schedule and a bit of a preview of what we might be able to expect to experience this evening after The Diplomats Drum & Bugle Corps get us warmed up (8:15 p.m.) for the competition.

8:35 Blue Stars

Show title:“The Once and Future Carpenter”
We’ve Only Just Begun – Paul H. Williams and Roger S. Nichols
Skyscrapers – John Alden Carpenter
Precious Metals – Thomas Newman
(They Long To Be) Close to You – Burt F Bacharach, Hal David
Images Oubliees – Claude Debussy
Rainy Days And Mondays – Paul H Williams and Roger S Nichols
I Won’t Last A Day Without You – Paul H Williams and Roger S Nichols

I always look forward to seeing the Blue Stars every year. They are the one corps that I feel like I can look forward to adding a unique and dramatic flair with somewhat of a French vibe to the field in a way that other corps don’t. I was a bit disappointed in their 2017 production Starcrossed as it came across more vanilla than I would prefer they be. I get the sense that this years program will be more in line with what I have come to appreciate with previous shows such as Sideshow and La Reve. Skycrapers by John Alden Carpenter and Precious Metals by Thomas Newman are some interesting pieces to keep an eye on to see how that they are interpreted on the field. The Stars are due to take a major step forward. I hope this is the year we see them push for a spot in the top 6.

8:53 Phantom Regiment

Show title:“This New World”
Finale (from Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium) – Aaron Zigman and Alexandre Desplat
Piano Concerto No. 3 – Sergei Prokofiev
A Child’s Garden of Dreams – David Maslanka
Picture Studies – Adam Schoenberg
New World Symphony – Antonin Dvorak

This New World sounds like a show for the drum corps purists out there, but Phantom Regiment has slowly, and likely begrudgingly, started to adapt to and accept this new era of the marching arts. I have a feeling they may use this show to further their transition to the present day, but never fear purists they will likely always keep their classic style in one way or another. I for one cannot wait for their rendition of Finale (from Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium). I get the sense that “like taking a bath in chocolate” feeling with that as the opener.

9:11 Boston Crusaders

Show title:“S.O.S.”
Salvation is Created – Pavel Chesnokov
A Breathless Alleluia – Philip Wilby
Marimba Spiritual – Minoru Miki
Sensemaya – Silvestre Revueltas
Extinguished – Ryan George, Colin McNutt, Iain Moyer and Michael Zellers
End Credits (from Cast Away) – Alan Silvestri
Amazing Grace/Traditional – John Newton, adapted by William Walker

I’m just going to be honest, I am not completely sure what to expect from this show. In one sense, they could go literal with the whole “stranded on an island” concept, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they will be a bit more abstract in their interpretation of “S.O.S.” One thing I am curious about is why “Sensemaya” has been a popular choice for corps the last few years. I wasn’t all that impressed by previous arrangements. That being said, while I wish Boston had chosen something more unique, I will give them a chance to make it work. Many believe this is the corps on the rise and they certainly took a huge step last year with Wicked Games over that mess from the year before. Will be interesting to see if they take another step forward this season.

9:29 Bluecoats

Show title:Session 44
Bird & Bela in B Flat – Don Sebesky
American Concerto – Patrick Williams
The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines – Joni Mitchell & Charles Mingus
Saro (Traditional English Folk Ballad)
Home (from Congo Square) – Wynton Marsalis
God Bless the Child – Billie Holiday

Editors note: I originally posted that they had not released their repertoire, and thanks to the #DrumCorps community on Reddit for calling me out on the mistake. All apologies to the Bluecoats for my little faux pas as they had released their musical selections.

In 2016, the Bluecoats set a new exciting tone and direction for drum corps. They created a more relaxed presence in how they outfitted the musicians on the field and added a dimension of performance not really seen before. They brought to the field what Blast! started and what SoundSport is continuing. Last season, the Bluecoats attempted to defend their title with Jagged line which, let’s face it, was a lateral move with a slight step back. We were so spoiled with “Down side up” that left us feeling “Okay that was a good show, but they didn’t do anything particularly remarkable.” They need to do better and continue to push boundaries and find ways to wow us like they did in the years prior. The Bluecoats have their magic formula. They know what it takes now. They need to have that wow factor again if they want those medals to be withing their reach this season.

9:47 The Cavaliers

Show title:“On Madness and Creativity”
Black Angels – George Crumb
The Triumph of Time – Peter Graham
Bolero – Maurice Ravel
Rose of Arimethea – Hans Zimmer
Orawa – Wojciech Kilar
Vanishing Act – Lou Reed
Alicia Discovers Nash’s Dark World – James Horner
Unraveled – Michael Martin, Michael Mcintosh and Alan Miller
Oh What a World – Rufus Wainwright

If you pay a little attention to the costuming that The Cavaliers revealed you might notice a familiar pattern. It very much resembles that of the Rorschach Test, a psychological test using inkblots. If that is an accurate correlation, I hope they found a way to use that and interact with the audience. It would certainly make sense of the “madness” in the title of their show. The Cavvies have really put together a nice musical program as we have always come to expect. Fair warning. Get those ears ready for Black Angels and I have a feeling that The Triumph of Time is going to a bit wild. Is this the show that gets them back to the top of the podium? It has been interesting to watch this evolution of The Cavvies and their approach to show design. I have a feeling we’ve only begun to see how “crazy” they can be.

10:05 Carolina Crown

Show title:“Beast”
Symphony No.8, Mvt 4 – Anton Bruckner
Build A Pyre – Ryan Lott; Son Lux
Destination Moon – Paul Raphael
Myth Forest – Stig Nordhagen
If I Fell – Lennon-McCartney
Blow It Up, Start Again – Jonathan Newman
Epiphanies – Ron Nelson

Unpopular opinion time. Crown needs to live up to their potential. I am not, however, going to go so far as to say they have been a total disappointment. Crown could have won with Inferno in ’15 and, in my opinion, didn’t have a strong enough of a performance at finals which let the Blue Devils sneak in and snatch that victory away. In 2016, they followed that up with one of their best shows they have put on a field with Relentless, but ruined it with changes to the closer that were pretty lackluster. Yes, spare me the commentary, I realize and understand why they made the changes. They were even changes I supported, however, they are capable of better than they finished with. To be fair, I always felt that ’16 was the Bluecoats year to lose from the first time I saw their show anyway. It was going to be an uphill battle for anyone trying to knock them off that perch. That brings us to last season. I am still not sure how I feel about it. It wasn’t terrible? It’s obvious they have have some of the best staff in the business and a ton of talent on the field. It was just a strange show that I never really felt invested in or could find a way to appreciate. This year they bring us Beast which a lot of corps fans, including myself, seem to be very excited about. Like the Blue Stars, Crown has brought to us a unique style all their own and I have no doubt this years program will be any different. Triple Crown is still one of my all time favorite drum corps shows. As for their musical selections, I have a warning for those purists out there, Crown might be using vocals during Build a Pyer. Musically Destination Moon offers a lot of visual opportunities that I hope Crown takes advantage of. I’m curious to see how they fit Blow it up, Start again into a show about a giant beast, whereas, Ephiphanies seems to fit right in with what you would expect from a show with that title.

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