Brass Explosion Contest Review – by Glen Carter

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REPORT BY GLEN CARTER FROM BRASS EXPLOSION 2015

Here is my band by band report from the contest in Stafford this Sunday.
It was a privilege to sit and watch this ‘parade’ of youth band talent. Such dedicated and well led groups all striving to give us pure entertainment. The styles may have been different – across the spectrum – but the intent to do well was obvious in every case. Well done every one!

This being my first ever report of this kind please accept my apologies if I sound like a judge – too many years of doing that in five countries!
Bands (not in order of playing) were:

TRINITY SSB

Trinity SSB

Trinity SSB

First onto the field in their good looking uniforms were Trinity, with 14 wind (including one souse phone), 5 guard and a pit/percussion group of 4.
They seemed a little nervous at first but that was not necessary – this band is a legend. (I even used to show their pictures to kids in Mexico as a good example of how to look).
The sound was good, a full sound with nice shifts of tempo. The flute sound was nice to hear and cut through clearly. Especially good was the flute solo.
The guard choreography and running was very interesting. The sabre entry was a bit disappointing.
Some transition moves were a bit slow to develop.
The Superman theme by brass was excellent – and I enjoyed the Crash and Smash signs in the pit!
The subsequent Sousa theme was a good idea but lacked confidence and the guard picture was confusing.
By the way, salutes should be with the right hand.
On the whole an enjoyable programme. I look forward to your next show!

DYNAMIC VIBE PE

Dynamic Vibe ensemble

Dynamic Vibe Ensemble

They came in with a large pit of 8 people, plus 6 brass and 4 guard and a Drum Major. There was
also an ‘Evil Queen’ (for the Snow White theme).
They need to rehearse the putting out of equipment as I thought this was confused and lengthy.
The start was shaky by the brass.
The guard had good personality but the phrasing of work needed to be longer.
The mobile trees for the forest theme were used interestingly.
The brass confidence was growing and the story line began to emerge. Their ability to play on the
move was good.
The audience reaction to Snow White eating the apple was excellent! Snow White was laid on the
bed and you could feel the audience was wrapt.
I felt the guard showed up better when together and not when split up. They need to increase the impact as the music speeds up I felt.
A nice throw though.
Snow White woke up but this needed more focus, especially from the flags. Improve the audio-
visual coordination and this could be a great show. I applaud the theme based show. Good
potential here I felt. Just think through all the visual elements. This was a pleasant surprise for me
as it was the first time I saw them.

STAFFORD BRIGADES

Stafford Brigades

Stafford Brigades

I have not seen this group for a while, so I was keen to check them out. 5 drums 7 brass and 3 in the pit but they made up for numbers by enthusiasm and powerful playing.
The uniforms give a nice impression.
Why was the entry off set from the centre?
A nice start featuring a star. Confident start by drummers with nice added visuals.
Brass hi stepping was good too – also with added visuals.
The brass volume was better than you would expect from this number – very confident.
Nice solos by mello’ then trumpet.
Very effective company front. This could have blown the stand down if they had a few more players.
4 more flags and 4 more brass and this could be a fantastic group!
The drum solo was equally brave – with moving brass behind.
Poses were used well by the brass. Then a nicely done ride cymbal sequence, good work.
Mellophone duet was very professional followed by a strong melody for frozen.
The brass showed us how to play one handed.
I enjoyed Supercallifragilistic – fun. And the sweeps were nice! – even throwing their brushes
A powerful, jazzy dance followed before they backed away for a nice ending.
Well done , you must feel proud!

COMETS PE

Comets PE

Comets PE

I have seen Comets before and recognized them for following the route of entertainment first.
Sorry about their coach incident earlier.
They had 9 brass, 5 percussion 4 flags and 7 in the pit plus the DM.
From the off, the entered in Show biz style, giving a nice rendition of ‘All That Jazz’.
The guard used chairs – like in the film.
Then a contrast with Les Mis. An open drill reflecting the ‘easier’ sound.
Flags were not sure about this number. Follow the melody line more.
Brass down at the front were v good.
Two guard with Red and White flags were excellent.
The French flag pyramid was excellent! 3 dimensional drill! Well sold.
The sash on the jackets woks very well.
The next number lost me a bit. Can you make the melody clearer?
Then the dance gets you back, they really try to entertain.
The splits at the end was dramatic.
Well done! Very entertaining.

HALIFAX BB/GB

Halifax BB/GB

Halifax BB/GB

6 brass and 6 percussion with 1 in pit and a DM.
Good impact to the start. Loudee than expected with a small corps. Played one-handed.
A lot of movement. Marching forward and back good, followed by a nice ‘V’ formation.
Step phasing a bit due to switching direction of marching.
A smart button over uniform.
A bit laboured gestures with drum sticks in mello solo.
Good pin wheel manoeuvre but the slow music was a bit flat.
Visuals with legs were good and the effect built up with the energetic percussion playing.
Choice of music was a let down until Ice Castles, which was excellent.
Formations in that were nice and mobile.
The slow march ending came across well. The company front ending was a good powerful finish.
The ideas are there – you just need a few more members and some careful planning and you will be back at the top!

LANESFIELD BB/GB

Lanesfield BB/GB

Lanesfield BB/GB

A super smart uniform here!
5 pit and 9 brass. (No guard sadly).
The new tuba did well.
The ‘films’ board supported the Pixar theme
The tim toms needed a proper stand as setting them up took too long.
Excellent first bars – very confident. The company front impressed – as did the wood block sounds.
Good musical effect while backing up.
Follow the leader shapes were well done.
Very memorable phrases to Woody.
The moves side to side worked well.
Take care to control the drums.
The mixing of slow and quick was not effective due to low degree of clarity.
Circle drill and music was a bit dull.
V facing back formation a bit glum.
Rose effect was a bit lost.
The tuba went into the pit. I know why but it was a good start.
At times the music was a bit laboured and the shapes should flow from one to the next.
The finish section was crisp however, with a cha cha end good.
It was enjoyable overall and two snares were excellent
I would say the future looks excellent, just keep working on it all!

LIBERTY

Liberty Drum Corps

Liberty Drum Corps

The theme of ‘Together’ was a brilliant creation!
7 brass, 4 bass drums, 3 snares and 5 in the pit. The Director/DM in tails was classy.
The colour guard looked very elegant in their dresses.
The spreading out opening was a bit dull.
The voice over was an interesting and clear.
The guard is very athletic and together.
Poses were good.
5 rifles were good but a little hesitant in places.
An excellent solo trumpet part and a very effective flag switch to gold colours.
More artistic poses from the guard and a ‘girl lift’ were good.
I liked the part about blue and red becoming violet.
The guard were controlling our emotions. The electronics were excellent too.
A very emotional ending of ‘together’
All very nicely put to together. Thank you all for the fine show.

EAST COAST ELITE

East Coast Elite

East Coast Elite

The Pandora’s box theme is much clearer now so a lot of work has been done.
14 brass, 5 percussion, 5 in the pit and 9 guard performed today.
Very fetching uniforms, with domed helmets and plumes, with purple the dominant colour.
The voice over brings clarity and is very clear.
The six guard balletic opening was very effective.
Not in unison when the rest of the guard enters.
A 4 sabre sequence was well done.
The brass playing is excellent – delivering a complex music effect very cleanly.
Flags at the front were very good, with a nicely posed ending.
The opening of the box was well done, with an audible response from the crowd. You feel this is a ‘quality show’.
The brass were very strong around the box and Pandora being pushed back was very dramatic. Super tuba playing.
The black flag sequence was excellent.
A very good company front.
The ‘Spartacus’ music was played so fluently it felt orchestral.
The entry of the Hope flag was nice but I felt it could be more dramaticly done.
9th Symphony was excellent, with lovel coloured flags, plus some excellent back sticking by the snare.
The pause was effective, and then the last opening of the box and on to the superb ending.
I was left breathless!
Superb!

IBSTOCK SCOUTS

Ibstock Scouts

Ibstock Scouts

The Wizard of OZ was an excellent choice for a band of this age group. The 4 characters and the Witch were excellent. (Afterwards I congratulated ‘Dorothy’ on an excellent show.
The brass were very strong and the pit very accomplished.
There were some excellent marching moments – the pin wheel and the backward marching for example.
The staging was sensible and the uniforms added to the effect – and especially the costumes of the characters which were excellent.
I liked the snare plucking – playing like bangoes!
The effect of the Rainbow was very nice.
A totally involving show.
Thank you for your entertainment.

BEECHES PE

Beeches PE

Beeches PE

I have been surprised watching the Beeches ‘Sword’ shows throughout this season. It has developed from a strong start and just kept getting better.
They start with 11 brass, 5 pit, 6 percussion but sadly no flags – which I feel could have added a lot to the effect.
Brass and percussion perform strongly throughout, with body moves adding to effect. From the opening fanfare it is totally compelling.
There is a super tenor performance here!
The use of the props – climbing onto the round table and using shields all add to the impact.
Body work is well controlled, with clear foot work and movements.
The horn solo by the ‘black knight’ was excellent while ‘white knight’ dancing on the table was perfect.
This show was very well learnt.
A calmer period involved a more open drill.
The ‘dipping’ by drums was a nice effect.
The sequence of voice by voice was effective.
Cartwheels added to the intensity. The final battle over the sword was dramatic. Tension was added by not knowing who would win (after yesterday seeing the black winning!)
An excellent choice of programme very well executed!

Revolution SC

Revolution SC

REVOLUTION SHOW CORPS

Revolution have been developing very quickly this year. Their strongest show ever.
A very absorbing and thrilling show from start to finish.
The battle for the crown was epic.
10 flags, 17 brass, 10 pit, 9 percussion.
The entry with pomp for the good knight was effective.
The brass builds the sound very expertly.
The two youngest guards who are lifted did very well – and again with the staves.
The plot is very well shown, with the fight being lost at first.
The corps marches superbly throughout.
We suspend our belief while prayer revives the good knight.
The chorus of the brass was wonderful.
The build up to the next battle keeps us involved, and then theflags come back with a new colour – good effect but not all executing together.
The battle was excellent and the finale was strong. However I felt the end needed an X Factor added.
Very professional and enjoyable!!

Stafford Lancers

Stafford Lancers

STAFFORD LANCERS

My very welcoming hosts looked after me very well today.
The corps looked very attractive in their nice blue jackets and white trousers.
12 brass, 5 drums, 5 in the pit and 7 flags.
The guard uniform puzzled me – being brown dresses. Nice dresses but the colour?
Another, crisp colour would have helped.
The opener, with well known music, had a nice impact.
The red and white flags worked well.
The marching cross field was confident.
The end in a nice pose left me wondering how such young performers could perform so well?
The brass all played well.
Clear voice over. Very capable drum line too.
The whole corps’ enthusiasm for Stafford Lancers was quite evident.
Mello solo was very nice.
The ‘leaf flags’ entry was powerful.
The tones of the bass drums sounded perfect.
The ending could be improved in dramatic effect but I enjoyed the corps a lot.
Well done.

Derby Midshipmen

Derby Midshipmen

DERBY MIDSHIPMEN

17 wind, 11 percussion, no pit.
This was my first time to see this band. People had told me to watch them carefully and I was swept along by their brisk marching routine.
It all reminded of routines I taught in the 70’s
A very strong start with a firm control of tempo.
A traditional style but very likeable.
Clean and well executed.
A beautiful cross over X.
The have a unique charm of their own.
Very refreshing to see a band of this style doing so well. Entertaing music and clean fast marching.
They wheeled from the side to side marching to go to the back on the center line and stopped at the back.
YMCA was a popular piece played in a wide front.
Their rendering of ‘Summertime’ at the halt was beautiful.
Thank you Midshipmen. Very well performed!

Phantom Knights

Phantom Knights

PHANTOM KNIGHTS

Frozen theme.
7 flags, 15 brass, 7 drums, 8 in the pit and 2 DM’s.
Started with blue flags and a nautical theme.
Neat flagwork, a mobile ‘passing’ drill for Snow Man. The nose and eyes visuals add well to the effect. Well done.
Ends in a nice square.
A jazzy piece follows, well played, but take care to enunciate the phrasing.
Nice horn solo and a good dance from the guard.
Crescendo effect was very nice.
Rifle work needs cleaning. They did not seem confident.
The corps uniform colours work very well.
Red flags and white shoes all add.

 

This Review was independently written for BYBA
by Glenn Carter