I am a DCI alumni from a time before amplifiers and quarter-ton props and percussion pits (yes, we CARRIED our tympani!)
A time of tick sheets and starter pistol shots and Jim Otte - fueled hornlines.
I am simply stunned at the difference between the 'Then' and 'Now' of DCI.
So far this season, Phantom and Madison are in a fierce battle between 11th and 12th place. That makes me sad. These were two of the most distinctive-sounding corps at one time, but they have changed over the years, and they now sound like every other corps. Don't get me wrong, they have given fantastic performances, but the signature sound... Phantom's commanding baritone-driven power chord openers with a machine-gun snare line driving it home, Madison's spanish-flavored backdrop to a non-stop screaming solo... They're both exploring new styles now, and while I still enjoy the way they sound, this whole "hopefully they'll make it to finals" thing makes me think they should break out some old shows and find that magic signature feel again. That may sound a little formulaic, but the conversations in the stands is "'Member when they played... That was great! How 'bout when they always had that..."
Crossmen and Troopers - I was blown away by both of their performances this year, and am scratching my head trying to figure out why they aren't scoring much, much higher. That french horn solo during Exit Music is by far my favorite piece of any show this year. And it gave me a smile at the applause in the stands when the last, lone Trooper left the stadium.
Cavaliers. The field performances are very well done. These guys are doing a great job with the show they were given. They are talented performers, every one. But I guess I don't "get" the show. The second time I saw it, from the 45-yard line, top row under the press box, I kept waiting for it to make sense, for an "aha" moment that I couldn't find the first time I saw it. But instead, right around the time the "men men men men men men men" thing started, I found myself thinking that if I headed down to the concession stand at that moment during the show, that I could beat the crowd. But out of respect for the long hours of very hard work that each and every one of these guys put into mastering this show, I stayed in my seat and gave well-earned applause at the end. Their new director has disappointed me with this "new direction and image" plan. Again - well performed, but the Rod Serling-esque avant-garde show left me cold. And if they aren't going to wear the iconic uniforms, then I think they should also change the salute. They were a nice set, part of the Cavalier "package." If they want to go with this new look, then they should let go of that last thread of the old.
Cadets. A choir? Really?
Carolina Crown. Holy crap. Saw them twice so far this year, as well as we got to watch them rehearse in the stadium for a few hours before the show, and were absolutely amazed at the power and the precision, as well as the entire dynamic between the corps and the staff. The singer has a great voice, and it is always a beautiful song, but the old fart in me wonders what it would sound like if played on a mellophone instead. But that horn line. The Crown horn line is the new standard to be measured against. I think they've got ninety horns on the field this year. And as powerful as they were during the rehearsal, they really turned it up to eleven for the performance. They've out-scored the Bluecoats once, I would not be surprised if the entirety of Lucas Oil Stadium is holding their breath when they announce second place on finals night. Actually, Third... Blue Devils are a force to be reckoned with this year.
Bluecoats... Geez - the big secret about the uniforms this year was such an anti-climax. 2016 raised the bar to be sure, and this year's show is pretty good as well. but I really hope this is not the start of a "brand new uniforms every year" trend. We're currently taking bets on whether or not they will do a uniform change this year at finals, preferably passing under the stage right before the closer. Great show, great sound, phenomenal color guard... but the uniforms were a disappointment after all the hype!