A few show reviews.
Filed under: — Mark Overholt @ 11:58 am

These reviews are done by people on the message boards. They reflect the OPINION of the reviewer as they were watching the show. They are unbiased and informative. They are by no means intended to bash any one band, just review with possible constructive criticism. If you would like to do a review of a show, we will post it here, as long as it meets these requirements.

The first review is a review done by dbalash. It is a review of the Lincoln-Way show.

It was a beautiful day for the 13th annual Lincoln-Way Marching Band Invitational. With a temperature in the mid 70s to start the day, no one was complaining. I made my way to New Lenox after work, which I got out late from, so unfortunately, I didn’t see Lincoln-Way East, Peotone, or Watseka. I had to walk about a 1/2 mile from where I parked to the field, which was kind of unfortunate.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a judge, nor do I claim to be. (It is nice, however, to be taking notes and to hear people behind me asking if I was a judge.) All of these words and scores are my opinions, and are not to be taken too seriously.

Exhibition Bands:

Lincoln-Way East:
Show title: “Songs for the Traveler”
My score: N/A
Place in Class: N/A

I didn’t get to see LWE, unfortunately. Hopefully, I will get to see them at ISU.

Show Title: “The Music of John Williams”
My score: N/A
Place in Class: N/A

Didn’t see them, either.

Class A
Show title: “GLORY: Nemesis, Conflict, After the Battle, The Glory”
My score: N/A
Place in class: N/A

Didn’t see them, either. Hopefully, I’ll see them at ISU.

Wheaton Warrenville South:
Show title: “Pictures at an Exhibition”
My score: 61.80
Place in class: 1st

Wheaton Warrenville South was the first band I saw. The main theme from Pictures at an Exhibition is played pretty nicely by a trumpet player, however, the last notes were a bit pinched. There’s some massive holes in a lot of the formations. Nice blended saxophone sound. Sousaphones need to watch their tone, as a couple of the section stuck out of the ensemble. Trumpets, watch the drum major. You tended to rush your feature a bit. Don’t move at a halt, please. Upper body angles were not uniform, some tended to lateral slide more than others. Nice bass drum feature. There’s a nice guard feature front field that I partially missed because I was watching elsewhere. Nice job with your feature, pit. There’s a nice 7 tossed by a rifle, however, she sort of misses the catch and catches it by the strap. Watch your straight lines, folks. Make sure you guide back to front. Watch your upper body carriage when playing to the box. Some of the trumpets were not playing to the box, they were playing to the middle of the audience.

Overall, nice job. Visual was a little muddy, music was pretty decent. They’re quite a bit smaller this season, as they were in AA last year.

Show title: “Fuego!”
My score: 50.45
Place in class: 2nd

Waukegan takes the field next. They have a nice opening musical attack. Some people were moving at halts while others were still moving. This was kind of distracting, as I’m watching one part and I see out of the corner of my eye that people are moving. Guide in your arcs, folks. Make sure you watch the drum majors’ hands, as I saw quite a few people out of step. Now, the thing that hurt most. The cymbal line was right in front of me on the 30 yard line. They’re at a halt, and one of the cymbalists drops one of her plates. I’m watching her, muttering under my breath “Don’t pick it up!” And what does this person do? Picks it up. There were quite a few audible groans from around me. Watch your higher range brass. It started to get a little tinny. Watch the drum major during your feature, drum line. The mello soloist wasn’t bad, but there were a few missed partials. There’s some very massive holes in some of the drill. Trumpet duet near the end wasn’t bad at all. There’s some very nice sounds coming from the saxophones.

Overall, not bad. The visual wasn’t the best performance ever. Music made up for that, however.

Class AA:

Class AA was next, after a 45 minute judges break, which I wasn’t very happy about because it wasn’t on the original schedule I was sent.

Show title: “CELEBRATIONS: The Music of Karl Jenkins”
My score: 70.60
Place in class: 3rd

Wheeling takes the field first to start off Class AA. They are a very large band, with a very small pit of 4. Some very nice sounds come from the band at the beginning. Just after I wrote that, the sousaphones come in a bit blatty. Nice blended sound, woodwinds. Trumpets have a series of attacks that are a bit gacked. There’s some minor spacing issues going on. Nice duet, trumpets. Nice feature to the box. Nice piccolo solo from side 2 40 yard line near the back hash, without a microphone. Wow. The beginning from Adiemus: Cantata II (think Cadets 2007 last piece) was taken a bit slow at the beginning. However, the trumpet feature during it was rushed just a little bit. Watch the drum major during that part and it will be a lot better. Nice drumline. There’s a saxophone player that I catch out of the corner of my eye on side 1 that’s wobbling pretty badly on their backwards marching. Nice trumpet solo near the end.

This was an excellent show. It’s unfortunate that their competitive season is now over, with only 2 football games left.

Show title: “RED: China, Cuba, Soviet Union”
My score: 61.45
My placement in class: 6th

Stagg takes the field next. There’s a mello solo to start the show, about 10 yards away from me, and I can barely hear it. Watch your spacing folks. Also, watch the drum major’s hands so you can stay in step better. Color guard flags aren’t together. Some were a bit behind in their work. There’s a nice saxophone solo from a color guard member. During the tango feature, there’s a nice duality theme, which everyone dancing in pairs of two. You can really spot the Greg Bimm drill, as it is well done. Watch your feet, folks!! Make sure you’re on the right foot. Nice drumline. Good sousaphone feature. Watch your horn angles, woodwinds. Some are facing front, while some are following the direction they are going. Don’t move at a halt, folks.

Overall not bad. The visual was muddy. The band rarely got above a mezzo forte as well. That hurt their score with me.

Show title: “AF 632: Brave New World”
My score: 81.35
My placement in class: 1st

Morton takes the field next. Nice preshow, timed perfectly with the show announcement. The announcer announces the show title as “AF 362: Brave New World.” Oops. Great sound to start, trumpet solo a bit fracked at the end of the phrase. Drumline sounds great. There’s a great use of color in the guard as their uniforms are as bright as can be. Great color in the flags, as well. Watch your spacing, folks, as there’s some minor spacing issues throughout. Great backfield movement as there’s some interesting drill moves in the backfield while the woodwinds have a feature up front. Trumpet solo is awesome. Nice feature woodwinds!! Wow, color guard. You’re sending chills up my spine. There’s a judge crawling around on the ground to get a better listen from the sound. I can tell she’s impressed, as am I.

Wow. What a great show. They have come so far in the past few years. I remember watching them at Grand Nationals in 2006, and not being very impressed with them at all. They have rapidly progressed, and that should continue, without a doubt. This show has the potential to take them so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make top 6 at ISU, and place in finals at the St. Louis Super Regional. I can’t wait to see this show again at ISU.

Downers Grove South:
Show Title: “Seven Blossom Rush: The Music of Sam Hazo”
My score: 67.60
My placement in class: 4th

Downers Grove South had the unenviable task of following Morton. Their show is the music of Sam Hazo, and I really only recognized portions of a few of the pieces. (Then again, I really don’t listen to Hazo.) There’s a nice pit intro to begin this show. Watch your spacing folks. Watch the trumpet feature speed, as there’s quite a bit of rushing and dragging going on. From where I’m sitting, the pit feels like they’re a bit ahead of the band. Drumline, keep the tempo by watching the drum majors. You’re right in front, and you’re a bit ahead of the tempo the drum majors are giving you. Nice middle brass sound coming from the mellos. Watch your straight lines, folks. Don’t blat, brass.

Overall, not bad. Some very nice sounds/visual going on, and this show has plenty of room to improve.

Show Title: “The Other Side: Music from Sea to Sky Suite by Ralph Ford
My score: 67.05
My placement in class: 5th

Lockport comes on the field next. Nice new uniforms, according to the announcer reading the airgrams. The beginning music is a bit muddy, and doesn’t read very well from where I’m sitting. Watch your sound, brass. Turn down the amp on the guitar in the pit. Brass is a bit muddy, but there’s really some nice sounds coming from the saxophones. There’s a clarinet feature that’s going to be awesome when it’s clean, but there’s some missed notes right now. Brass, don’t miss your step-offs. Make sure you watch the drum major’s hands for some help. Also, don’t move at halts. The show at the end starts to drag a little bit. The ending was a bit confusing to me, and the folks around me.

Overall, not bad. I’d like to see this show again in 2 weeks at ISU, and it should be better.

Normal West:
Show Title: “Paris Sketches: Saint Germain-des-Pres, Pigalle, Pere Lachaise, Les Halles”
My score: 73.55
My placement in class: 2nd

Normal West takes the field as the last band in AA. There’s a few props adorning the field, including a big backdrop on side 1 near the end zone back sideline with the name of the show on it. There’s also a stage from last year’s H20 show that looks like it was recycled and repainted. Normal West has an amazing on-field warmup, which is the ballad from Phantom Regiment’s 2006 show, “Faust.” I got chills listening to it. Those chills remained throughout the show. Watch your spacing, mellophones. There’s a mime riding a bicycle acorss the field. Now, I’m watching the guard soloist-but she drops, leading to some “aww’s” from around me. The bari sax and timpani keeping tempo idea really didn’t work from where I was sitting, as the section didn’t match up. The mime flashes around a stop sign commanding the band to stop playing, but they don’t listen to her. During the solos from the podium, there’s some feedback issues with the microphone. Nice saxophone solo. As the backfield drum major’s walking up the field, she runs into the guard girls going to change their equipment. Both the DM and the guard girls just stand there for a minute, not sure how to solve this. I have a suggestion-have the drum major go around where all the equipment is, and go along the sideline to her podium. The band switches to berets for the last movement, and I didn’t even notice. The saxophone feature from where I was sitting was barely audible. Don’t rush, saxes!!

Overall, Normal West was really good. I enjoyed their show a lot. I’m excited to see this show again.

Class AAA:

Class AAA was next, after yet another 45 minute break.

Show title: “Music for a Darkened Theater: The Music of Danny Elfman”
My score: 73.25
My placement in class: 3rd

Muscatine takes the field first in AAA. They’re a fairly large band from Iowa, and I had never had the pleasure of seeing them before last night. I’m not a very big fan of the front-field blockers that guards use to change behind, and they had many of those. Watch your tone, woodwinds. It was a bit sharp as the weather changed. Watch your lateral sliding, folks. Some people were at a full 90 degrees, and others were at various angles other than that. Nice drumline feature. Some very nice sounds coming from the trumpets. Good saxophone solo. Nice park ‘n blow. These kids can really play. There’s some holes going on throughout the band. Guiding would help.

Pretty good show. These kids really impressed me with how well they play. The visual was dirty, but overall not bad at all.

Naperville North:
Show title: “Copland”
My score: 82.45
My placement in class: 1st (My Grand Champion)

Naperville North takes the field next. Their show theme reminds of Bluecoats’ 2007 show, “Crimin^l.” There’s a cop standing at a desk writing. Nice intro with Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. Watch your releases, trumpets. Some held over. Nice blended full bodied sound. Good woodwind feature. Awesome soprano saxophone solo. Really nice drumline feature as well. Followed closely by a good trumpet solo. Watch your diagonals right in front of the box. Marking them with chalk lines will help. Another good trumpet feature. Color guard isn’t quite together. One guard member seems lost, as she’s right near the front and she’s continuously looking around for help. There’s a weird ending that I wasn’t quite sure of-the cop walks around near the 10 yard line on side 1 yelling about something. Couldn’t understand her.

I came in thinking I may not like this show. Boy, was I wrong. This show absolutely bleeds General Effect. Music was performed well, and the visual was a bit behind it. I can’t wait to see this show at ISU.

Oak Creek:
Show title: “A Knight at the Opera: The Music of Giacomo Puccini”
My score: 75.25
My placement in class: 2nd

Prior to seeing them, I did a google search on Oak Creek to see what their show was. I came upon this: “This production was commissioned as a memorial to Gary Kautenburg, Director of Bands at Oak Creek High School from 1988 to 2006.” That brought a tear to my eye. And then, when I saw them, I almost lost it at the beginning. The drum majors released a balloon and sprinkled glitter on the field after the salute. Very touching. Watch your tempo, pit. You seem to be rushing just a little bit. There’s some spacing issues as well. Know what direction you are going as a few people didn’t see to know which way the direction change was. Lateral slide, folks. Nice woodwind feature. Good trumpet sound. Don’t rush the music, folks. It’s beautiful music, and I want to enjoy it. Watch your straight lines as well. Make sure you guide them back to front. Don’t move at a halt, folks. Watch your trumpet tone, folks.

After the band leaves the field, there is one flag left on the field-possibly as a tribute to the memory of their old band director? I don’t know, but they weren’t penalized for the glitter or the flag left. A beautifully touching show-one that I’m sure honors the memory of their band director quite well.

Plainfield North:
Show Title: Impressions of Japan and Variations on a Korean Folk Song
My score: 57.25
My placement in class: 5th

Plainfield North takes the field next. They have a large(ish) wind and auxiliary, and a very small pit. Nice intro, folks. Good sounds coming from the clarinets. There’s some major spacing issues going on. Watch your diagonals, tubas. There’s 2 tubas that are drastically out of the formation. Woodwinds, play out some more. You’re right in front of me and I can barely hear you. Clarinets, watch your tempo during the beginning of Variations on a Korean Folk Song. It’s being rushed quite a bit. Watch your spacing folks!! It’s getting pretty small. Nice park and blow section. However, coming out of that, don’t lean into your next move. There’s a lot of random notes being played that don’t sound like they quite fit the show. Watch your sound, mellos. Don’t rush, folks!! Nice ending.

I don’t think this was their best performance. It had it’s moments, but musically and visually, it was rather dirty.

Joliet West:
Show: “Chess: The Art of Strategy”
My score: 61.35
My placement in class: 4th

Joliet West takes the field as the last band in AAA. They have the same basic concept as Carolina Crown did in 1996. Not sure if it’s the same music, however. The color guard uniform is split black and white, for each color of chess pieces. Very cool. Watch your spacing folks!! There’s some nice sounds coming out of instruments at the beginning. Watch your tempo, pit. You’re dragging quite a bit. Nice woodwind feature. Color guard isn’t too bad, there’s some people dragging but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. Don’t move at a halt, folks. Make sure you’re on the correct foot-watch the drum major. Nice trombone feature. Nice duality theme with the white and black flags. Watch your lateral slide, folks.

Not a bad show. Visual wasn’t the best, but that can easily be fixed. I’ll see this show at ISU, and I hope it’s improved.

Lincoln-Way Central:
Show title: “360”
My score: N/A
My placement in class: N/A

I didn’t review Lincoln-Way Central. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.

I had a few major thanks/and a few complaints about this show:

Thanks go out to the Lincoln-Way music boosters who always run a great show, with many great bands.

Thanks go out to the Morton people who “pestered” me to meet up with them after the show. You all are awesome people and I hope I go to ISU so I can meet up with y’all again, and we can get a picture taken together (because y’all failed in that department last time dry.gif ) . I also loved the cheer I got when I was walking back to my car from you guys.

Complaints…I have one or two.

Maybe it was just where I was sitting (35 yard line), but I could easily hear the other bands warming up a ways down.

Join me as I (tentatively) plan to go to, and review, the following shows:
-October 4th: Naperville Central
-October 11th: ISU Prelims and Finals
-November 13th-15th: Bands of America Grand Nationals Prelims, Semifinals, and Finals.

The next review is done by clarinetdude126, and it is of the Prospect: Knights of Champions show.

I arrived at Prospect to see from VJA to the end, I didn’t take any notes (which I regret), but these are my impressions of the shows. That being said, I am most definitely not a judge and shouldn’t be taken as one. Also, this is a day old memory, so my recollections might not be totally accurate. Feel free to respond or correct me on any errors. The bands will only be reviewed, not ranked. Also, for those of you wondering, I was standing next to the press box right on the 45/50 range, so I got up as high as I could. Enjoy!

VJA: This was the first band I saw, and like other people commented on, they are definitely smaller than I remember. That being said, it had absolutely nothing to do with their performance level. Their show was Eric Whitacre music, but the only one I recognized was Sleep, which was played extremely well. Overall, I was very impressed with them and would certainly believe this will be another ISU finals year for them.

Warren Township: This was the first AAA band to go. I thought the beginning was a little shaky, especially in the trumpet entrances. However, when they hit the halt and the full ensemble came in, this is definitely a band that can play. However, the 7/8 marching still needs some cleaning. The ballad was played very well, but the closer had some timing issues in the beginning. This was a very entertaining show, but not as serious as the others. I think Warren will be fighting it out for one of the last finalist spots at ISU.

Waubonsie Valley: Going after Warren, their two shows were about as contrasting as can be. Waubonsie’s show was entitled “Uneven Souls” and began with the entire band yelling and moaning during the announcement, which I’m assuming was to show that they were all souls that were not at peace. The drum major began the show, however there was no playing. The band’s instruments were on the field and they were moving about to pick them up. A lot of fine soloists in the band, but I never really felt the ensemble got a chance to play for an extended period of time. The show was well executed, but not my cup of tea. I think WV will be another one fighting it out at ISU.

Lemont: Their show was based on children’s board games. This band was significantly weaker than the prior 2 in AAA. I really disliked this show, I felt the music wasn’t that great and the visual was not that strong either. There were a few nice moments in the show, but overall I was not at all impressed. This is definitely a weaker year for Lemont, and I don’t see them making finals this year at ISU.

Evanston: I don’t know why two AA bands went after three AAA bands, but that’s aside from the point. Their show was Circe du Sole, and it was okay. They were a fair amount of people out of step when I looked at the feet at any given time, but the group’s sound was pretty nice overall. Again, there were some nice moments in the show. As they were walking off, the announcer said that this was their very first competition. With that perspective in mind, this was a very strong showing for a band’s first time on the competitive field. Way to get out their guys!

Rock Island: This was the second of two randomly interspersed AA bands to perform. Even for an AA band, they looked on the small side. The thing that really stuck out to me was only 1 sousaphone. All that aside, I really liked the show concept. It was Scheherazade and Caravan mixed together. Some nice moments, but a bit blatty and uncontrolled at others. However, the ending to their show was one of the neatest I’ve ever seen. The entire band runs into a tunnel, it reminded me of when the sand lion eats Aladdin (maybe what they were going for, someone please feel free to help me out).

United Township: UT led of the last pack of top-notch AAA bands. First off, does anyone know if they got new uniforms? Anyway, I LOVED their show. It had something and October by Whitacre, which is one of my favorite pieces. Their beginning was a little timid, but once they got some air going, it was back to the usual UT sound that I remember and enjoy so much. Two trombone players collided and wiped out, but they made a nice recovery. I hope everyone is okay! The drill for that show seemed very demanding, and that to me was their biggest downfall. At times, it looked like the drill was taking away from their playing. However, I thought for the most part, the music was great. I would definitely vote UT as the 4A winner with a top 10 score this year.

Lake Park: This was another band that I was very happy with. This is the best Lake Park show I remember in recent years. I really enjoyed the show until the closer, which I thought was a little shaky. But the playing and visual was of the usual Lake Park excellence. I think they’ll definitely win 6A at ISU and score towards the top. And if they clean up their last chunk of the show, I would almost for sure give them a top 3 score.

John Hersey: Yet another band that I think is having one of their best years. Their show is “The Music of Samuel Barber” and it features “School for Scandal, First Essay, and Medea’s Dance of Vengeance (who doesn’t love that)”. I thought the playing of this group was top notch. However, as with UT, I thought their footwork and drill needed some more cleaning. Something funky happened at one point in the show, where I saw some flutes bunch up in the front, but they did a nice job adjusting on the next move. If the marching matches the playing, Hersey will be in great shape for U of I.

Lincoln-Way East: This was the band I was most eager to see for two reasons; they were GC last year at ISU, and to see how the split affected them. The answer to the second part is not at all. Their show really pushed the envelope for me on what I like for marching band. There were probably 7 or so members of the guard that stood on this giant pit prop and sang along for I think the entire first movement. It was definitely a visual experience. They had a guard girl in one of those “hamster balls”, which was very interesting. I also enjoyed how they gave a few sections features throughout the show. I thought the playing was very clean and their sound was very good as well. I voted this way in the polls as well, but I think they will be the 5A champions and have a shot to defend their GC title.

Prospect: This was the last band of the evening (duh) and I was really looking forward to it. However, I was disappointed with this year compared to what I’ve come to expect of Prospect. I did think their footwork was very good, but I felt that the playing was weaker than in past years and even was blatty on several occasions. I didn’t really like the show design that much either, but that’s just my personal opinion. Overall, they were still strong, but not as strong as I remember in the past. I think they will definitely make finals, but I don’t think they will win 5A (see above band).

I thought the part of the competition I was there for ran smoothly, but I only have one complaint. I don’t know if there is a way around this, but I could clearly hear the bands warming up during other bands performances, which I HATE. I realize that this may simply be a space issue, but if there is some way around this, that would be great. Other than that, I had a great time watching great bands!

Thank you to both of you for taking the time to write these reviews. Remember, you can submit a review too. Either send it to an admin on the board, or just post it, we will see it!

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