It’s been a great first half to the BYBA contesting season and as we reach the summer recess I thought we could take a moment to review the year so far.
Surprise package of the year has to be Beeches Performance Ensemble, these guys have continued the momentum from last year’s BYBA finals performance and with visual designers Chris Law and Nicole Cooke now on board have taken the bands visual performance to a totally different level.
The use of body, dance and equipment along with some well-staged props has enabled Beeches to produce a visually rich and engaging production, this overlaid with the musical scoring from top US arranger David Reeves has propelled this band to the top of the BYBA league.
Apologies for the blatant self-promotion but at this point I want to credit BYBA for having a judging system that allows bands and corps without colourguard to compete on a level playing field, it really goes to show that our Association is for all styles.
Hot on Beeches heels and winners of the East Midlands Showdown contest are Revolution Show Corps.
Like Beeches Revolution have carried the improvements of 2014 into 2015 while still managing to integrate some younger members into the production. Revolutions strength this year lies in a strong story line.
Some unfinished guard work and cleaning must be Revolutions priority now if they are to catch Beeches.
A period of re-staging and redesign appears to have given East Coast Elite a new lease of life. The plinth which masked and hindered much of the Corps performance at Featherstone has been scaled down and more importantly is now mobile so it can be
moved into and out of focus as and when required.
At times I feel that the Corps is still staged a little far back but at the larger venues with higher stands in the second half of the season this will become less of an issue for them and the two corps above will need to be wary.
It’s been ‘in at the deep end’ for Phantom Knights in their first season back in Premier Class but the building blocks of future success are already in place for all to see with a strong competent performance at Grantham under their belts.
For Phantom Knights now with the basics in place it’s a case of exploring the full emotional and dynamic range of their production in both a musical and visual sense, perhaps challenging the members a little more… because they are certainly capable.
Arriving a little later than expected on the field this year are Liberty Drum Corps. Clearly a smaller Corps than in previous seasons this corps is blessed with some very inventive, creative minds however at times the basic understanding of movement lets the Corps down somewhat which means the great ideas are masked by execution issues.
Like an house a visual show needs to be built on strong foundations and if Liberty can get those drill foundations a little more solid then the artistry of the performance will be able to shine through.
I think it’s fair to say that Stafford Lancers have struggled somewhat this year and due to being behind schedule have only been in a position to put a partially complete show on the field.
That being said this corps has shown great spirit and determination and at the recent DCUK show there was the first inkling that this technically complex show is starting to come together and I for one am looking forward to seeing the finished product.
As with Premier Championship Class has seen what to many is a surprise leader at the halfway point of the season with Stafford Brigades 3.76 point lead over their nearest rivals.
There is no secret to Stafford Brigades success though it’s simply the product of a well pitch production and being ready well in advance with Stafford being ready for their first full BB Regional contest back on 9th May.
With their AniMovies show Lanesfield BB/GB are another unit who seem to benefit from being ready for the pre-season BB contests.
Certainly not as clean as leaders Stafford in the early season the gap has closed from 6 points to less than 2 and it will be too close to call when these bands next meet at Brass Explosion!
Of the top three bands in Championship Class Comets have probably the most developed concept with their music from the musicals show. Unfortunately they have not been able to capitalise on the concept due to performance issues centered in the main around timing.
If Comets can get these issues resolved they can start to threaten the top two if not then winners of the Midland Showdown contest 1st Ibstock Scouts are hot on their heels!
Ibstocks 2015 music is taken from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘The Wiz’ and all the signs are there that this could be a great show. Unfortunately at Grantham we only got the first half of the show and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest.
Musically there are non-better than Ibstock in this Division and if they can finish and clean the show then they could be a dark horse at national Championships!
Like Ibstock both Halifax and Trinity have competed in just one contest this year and it’s a long wait until Brass Explosion on 20th September with both bands still having lots to offer.
Dynamic Vibe PE have been our sole competitors in Associate Class so far this year but that hasn’t stopped them from being very inventive and creative with their ‘Poison’ show.
It would be great for these guys to have some more competition in this class in the future, and I’m looking forward to seeing Midshipmen at the next contest.
I can’t conclude my round up without mentioning the three non-member bands who also competed at BYBA contests this year.
Barnsley Sea Cadets, 10th South Shields BB/GA and St Peter’s Whetstone
CLCGB each one of these bands brought something new and unique to the Association. Feedback from each band was overwhelmingly positive and speaks volumes for an Association that we all at times perhaps take a little for granted.
A reduced number of bands but the most competitive season for a number of years and I for one can’t wait for the second half!