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July 6 Stockton, CA
DCI Pacific
Score Placement
Div I
Blue Devils
Santa Clara Vanguard
The Cadets
Blue Knights
Div II
Vanguard Cadets
Blue Devils "B"
Southern Oregon Crusaders
Blue Devils "C"
Renegades, Sr.
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July 6 Review: Stockton, CA
DCI - Pacific
Thanks to Kevin Pogue for emailing his review to reviews@scorpsboard.com!

Due to traffic getting to and into the stadium (hey, Stockton's a bustling city of over 250,000 now), I missed the Southern Oregon Crusaders and Esperanza. I came in halfway through the performance by...

IMPULSE (64.90 - 4th place, Division II)
36 brass, 33 percussion (10s, 6q, 4c, 5b, 8p), 9 guard.
I liked what I heard and saw. The fun and antics I feel do have a place in Drum Corps, and they've been sorely missed since VK folded. Impulse performed a South Seas show, featuring music from "Bali Hai", "Hawaiian Wedding Song", and "Hawaiian War Chant". The brass line was clean, but the book was fairly easy. The large percussion line was good, and the drum line feature was the highlight of the show.

VANGUARD CADETS (72.75 - 2nd place, Division II)
36 brass, 34 percussion (10s, 4q, 5c, 5b, 10p), 22 guard.
Another lower division corps with a mammoth percussion line which was their strongest feature. The brass line was terribly weak and top heavy (only 4 contras). The drum line was excellent, as clean as Impulse's with a much harder book. There were a lot of drops in the guard, especially in the opener, "Tempered Steel". They also played "Partita" by Phillip Sparke, and "The Gift of Love" and "Time to Take Back the Knights" by Stephen Melillo. Nowhere near as good as the 2000 corps. They had a decent enough visual program, but their brass line will keep them from repeating as Division II champions if they are indeed going back to Buffalo. (Ed note: they are not)

BLUE DEVILS "B" (65.00 - 3rd place, Division II)
19 brass, 30 percussion (6s, 4q, 5b, 3c, 12p), 20 guard.
A tiny, tiny hornline. Only 1 contra. The hornline was weak, and had bad attack and intonation problems, even with an easy program. The percussion was clean, but didn't have as challenging parts as the previous two corps. The guard was good. Playing "Dance Movements" by Phillip Sparke, I was amazed they beat out Impulse, who I thought was much better.

MANDARINS (78.15 - 1st place, Division II)
27 brass, 24 percussion (6s, 3q, 5b, 10p), 16 guard.
Completing the inaugural Division II "Phillip Sparke Festival", the Mandarins played "Music for a Festival", "Variations on an Enigma", "Mountain Song", and "Partita", all by Phillip Sparke. They were far and away the best corps in Division II, and I will be stunned if anyone can compete with them this year. They have a Division I difficulty level in their show, and they perform it very well. Their Visual program is sensational this year, highlighted by a guard company front rifle toss, with the corps forming a company front behind them while the rifles are in the air. From there, the corps speeds into a swirling, criss-crossing drills that would make the Cadets proud. Give this corps 60 more kids and they'd make finals, I guarantee it. Simply amazing.

BLUE KNIGHTS (75.40 - 4th place, Division I)
62 brass, 28 percussion (7s, 5q, 4b, 12p), 36 guard.
Performing: "Cartoon" by Paul Hart, "Black Market Juggler" by Joseph Zawinul, and Hanna/Barbera's "Johnny Quest" theme song.
I liked this show a lot more than I thought I would. Speaking of "goofing off", BK appears to have channeled the spirit of VK this season! This show reminds me of VK's 92 and 93 shows. There are several terrific antics in the show, including a horn player chasing a guard girl through the swirling drill of the rest of the corps. The percussion, guard, and visual program are all impressive. The Blue Knights will live and die this year through their brass. As of Friday night, the brass line was terribly weak. They're fairly clean, but utterly lacking in power. Best case scenario: the hornline shapes up, and BK finishes in the top 6 again. Worst case scenario: the hornline doesn't shape up, other corps clean up more and pass them, dropping BK into a 7-10 spot. I scored them: 74.25

BLUE DEVILS (85.60 - 1st place, Division I)
63 brass, 27 percussion (9s, 5q, 5b, 8p), 39 guard.
Performing: "Awayday" by Adam Gorb, and "Fantasy Variations" by Donald Grantham.
Adam Gorb's piece is a tribute to old-time American musicals, and it shows in the Devils' production. BD is the total package this year. They have the usual: smokin' brass, world class guard, and a great visual program. They also have everything else: a great drumline (best they've been since 1996) and a terrific effect package. They remind me of their 1994 corps, and indeed, I see flashes of the 94 show in this program. They left me with the question: can anyone beat the Blue Devils this year? Best case scenario: they stay right on track a blow everyone else away en route to an 11th championship. Worst case scenario: they peak too early, and other corps catch or pass them (refer to: 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000). I scored them: 85.50

SANTA CLARA VANGUARD (83.35 - 2nd place, Division I)
64 brass, 32 percussion (9s, 4q, 5c, 5b, 9p), 37 guard.
Performing: "Alarm", "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" by John Adams, "Jug Blues and Fat Pickin'" by Donald Freund, "Variants on a Medieval Tune" by Norman Dello Joio, and "New Era Dance" by Alan Jay Kernis.
I did not have to wait long for an answer to my question. SCV was phenomenal, and got seriously jobbed. BD may have been better, but they sure weren't 2.25 points better. The show starts out with one of the 5 bass drummers at each corner and one dead center on the 50, with the corps a big zig-zag from bottom center to mid-upper right on the field. The show starts with 15-20 seconds of near silent drill, with only the slight tinkling of bells in the pit. Suddenly, the whole ensemble comes to an immediate halt in a big block and unleashes a full bore blast into the stands. The guard cuts loose with white/silver flags with flourescent orange edges. Quite an opening! SCV has a killer drumline and (in my opinion) a far better visual book and more effective show than either the Devils or the Cadets. I was immensely impressed with this show and can't wait to see how well they do this scene. They're a little dirtier than BD right now, which is the only thing I can think of that caused the scoring gap. Best case scenario: their hornline and guard clean up enough to hold their own against the Devils, the drums and visual program should do the rest; definite Championship contender. Worst case scenario: things never quite gel, and they don't pass up either the Cavvies or the Devils; I don't see SCV finishing lower than 3rd at finals. I scored them: 85.25

THE CADETS (83.20 - 3rd place, Division I)
60 brass, 28 percussion (8s, 5q, 5b, 10p), 38 guard.
Performing: "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" by Benjamin Britten, "Moondance" by Van Morrison, "Vide Cor Meum" by Patrick Cassidy, and "Farandole" by Georges Bizet.
Okay, trivia time: what does "Moondance" have in common with the Cadets' other selections? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. And that, my friends, is the Cadets' problem. Much like you would think with a pop tune amidst classical selections, this show just doesn't mesh. All of the individual pieces are excellently arranged and performed, but there's no "flow" between them at all. Is like the Cadets' staff got FOUR shows ideas, and just couldn't pick one, so they did a spot of each. It's this disjointedness that will keep them from being a Championship contender; the show just lacks the fire and the effectual "punch" that BD and SCV have. As far as the lying down during "Vide Cor Meum" goes, I don't see why everyone's in such a furor. I timed it: they aren't even stationary for 45 seconds. The Blue Knights stood in one spot for longer in their ballad, so why's everyone ragging on the Cadets for being motionless for half a minute? The highlight of the show is, by far, Farandole, the new (?) closer. It contains a terrific, lightning fast horn run, and the best drill out of any of the four movements. Best case scenario: um, this program design was a mistake from the beginning... best the Cadets can do is keep it together and keep any the "upstarts" from knocking them out of 4th place at finals. Worst case scenario: the show stays awkwards, and the Cadets are passed by one or more of the following: Glassmen, Phantom Regiment, Boston Crusaders, or Crossmen. I scored them: 82.25

Kevin Pogue
Sacramento, CA

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