Become a DCUK Facebook Fan

Report and full recaps from Barnsley contest - 18th June 2017


On what was the hottest day of the year to date the 2017 DCUK Summer season got off to a tremendous start with eight Corps in a competition all presenting their 2017 productions to a large and very enthusiastic audience eager to enjoy the shows and show their appreciation.

I arrived at the show and could almost taste the atmosphere that was building whilst just driving through the car park the sounds and sights of Drum lines and Horn lines warming up, Colour Guards spinning and drill basic blocks were a great sight to see and gave me a feeling that everyone including myself was really looking forward to getting the season underway after the many months of preparations.

The general chatter in the vicinity of the venue was as always one of cautious optimism with no one wanting to give too much away with regards to how winter and spring preparations had been going, You know the usual saying and caveats “we would have liked just one more day or weekend to get ready”, “we only did our first full run trough yesterday” 

Trying to get a direct and insightful opinion or answer from any Director or senior staff member was about as easy as trying to get a politician to give a straight Yes or No answer to a simple question. That being said and being an old hand at the game I wasn’t really expecting anything else and was pleased to know that nothing changes at this time of year. 

So onto the actual business of the first DCUK show of the season, the honour of opening proceedings this year rested with the Concord All Stars from Sheffield the Judges were in place and ready to go, the audience were expectant so we got underway in the blistering heat of the early afternoon.

Concord (“The Final Frontier”) - Junior Class - 1st - 46.50
With their unmistakable uniforms and in true Concord style we were treated to a great performance from this young group. Right from the start we were informed that we were about to embark on a journey aboard the “Concord Enterprise” we were treated to and entertained with musical selections ranging from ET to Star Wars and Star Trek as we moved through the show. The use of the silver silks by the guard which to my mind represented stars in the night sky were a really cleaver visual motif to the show. This team certainly had the audience engaged throughout and at the end of the show they showed their appreciation with great applause which must have made the members and Staff of the corps extremely proud. As they exited the field to a rousing drum cadence the crowd once again gave them another big send off to say thanks for such an entertaining performance. 

Comets (“Here To Eternity”) - Open Class - 7th - 32.55
It was great to see these guys taking part in a DCUK Show, I’ve not seen them perform for quite a while, With their 10 Horns, 9 Battery and Front Ensemble, 5 Guard and Drum Major they took us on an entertaining journey of spiritual numbers starting with an intriguing and mysterious opening leading into “Stairway to Heaven” and onto a lovely rendition of “Fields of Gold. I was particularly impressed with the Baritone solo at the beginning of “I will follow Him” and the Trumpet Duet in Hallelujah when the performers were making use of the props to highlight their skill and prominence. 

The Battery were controlled, musical and accomplished especially during the reprise of “I will follow him” and this group has coped well in the conditions and have most certainly got a good all round understanding of their show and how to bring the best out of it as the season progresses. I’d love to see this group again gracing us with further outings in competition.

Dynamic Vibe (“Whole”) - Open Class - 6th - 38.55
This was the first time I’d actually seen these guys in person live and boy do they know how to nail a hit for the size of the corps. The striking Black silks coupled with the sound during their powerful opening statement was superb. After the opener they changed the feel completely with a rendition of one of my favourite numbers in Radiohead’s “Creep” Always a tough number to pull off but they handled it well and as they progress I can see this becoming a real highlight of their show. As they moved into a number from “Beauty and the Best” I was struck by and fascinated with both the colour choices and sequenced introduction of the colour guards silks. First they were all red then a single Yellow, then Black and finally a vibrant blue, for me this really worked for them and brought the field to life. As we progress through the season I can see this group making great strides in terms of the scores on the doors. 

Beeches (“The 5 Senses”) - Open Class - 3rd - 55.40
Whilst not wanting to pre judge this groups first outing I certainly had high expectations given the constant progress this corps has made over the last couple of seasons. Well I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed. With their production called “Senses” Beeches have once again taken another step forward in terms of concept, continuity and pacing in brining this show to the field.

Exploring the senses the corps took us on a forensic journey exploring and communicating via strong visual and musical motifs of Sight, Hearing and Touch etc. From the wonderful flutist and subtle melodic references in “world of imagination” to the to the dark feel of the low brass and great use of electronics during the “touch” segment featuring some great staging using a strong red and black colour palette combination effectively this corps has certainly hit the ground running this year and I for one am certainly looking forward to seeing how they progress throughout the season. Definitely another step on an upward curve and a thumbs up for the corps from the writer.

Break / Interval
I spent most of the break circulating the car park and around the general vicinity outside of the stadium. I have to say that the vibe and atmosphere around and about was both invigorating and entertaining. There were various corps warming up and drawing large crowds, there were many small groups of supporters renewing friendships chatting, catching up and comparing notes on the show they had seen thus far. The food and merchandising outlets were doing a roaring trade (particularly the ice cream van).

Click to see full size image

Corps that had already performed were being debriefed and talked to by staff and corps who were scheduled to perform immediately after the break were in full preparation mode getting their game faces on and making themselves ready to enter the field. 

All in all an awesome atmosphere which just added to the overall ambience and entertainment. Bravo to DCUK and the show organisers for facilitating the opportunity for this to happen, After all it’s not just about the superb on field performances that make the day complete but the chance to soak up what goes on behind the scenes along with the chance to socialise with alumni and wider Drum Corps fan base.

East Coast Elite (“He Had it Comin’) - Open Class - 5th - 49.50
I always look forward to seeing this group perform, whilst not the largest of corps in terms of numbers they certainly just seem to bring a sense of presence and occasion when they take the field. With the haunting and instantly recognisable themes from the “Godfather” the scene of Chicago during the mid 1920’s is well set. The use of the period tables and chairs to create the setting works well in framing and contextualising the overall theme. This show has many subtle but clear sub texts ranging from committing the crime the crime to capture, incarceration and on to reflection and redemption. All in all a great first outing to debut of their 2017 production from this now established and competitive team on DCUK circuit.

Revolution (“Jekyll and Hyde”) - Open Class - 4th- 52.90
Not surprisingly Revolution were welcomed onto the field with aplomb by what seemed like an army of support in the stand, I can only imagine that all the car park attendants, catering staff and other officials must have downed tools and made their way into the stadium to watch their home town corps.

The Corps entered the field, set up and performed an on field warm up which added to the sense of anticipation of what was to come from Green Machine. From the attention grabbing opening statement with strong segmented block visual staging and the props which left us in no doubt as to what this show was all about the corps hit the ground running from the very start. I particularly enjoyed the Trumpet and Mellophone solo performances during the ballad they felt and sounded as they were played with feeling, shaping and lovely musicality. The battery seems to have made some significant progress during the off season whilst featuring new equipment. As always a shout out to the cymbal line, enthusiastic, entertaining and fun to watch. All in all a fine performance from Revolution and a show that will I’m sure develop quickly over the coming months 

Kidsgrove Scouts (“Montagues and Capulets”) - Open Class - 1st - 68.90
Next to take the field and looking resplendent in their new uniforms were the Kidsgrove Scouts to premier their 2017 show. The Colour Guard costumes divided equally in terms of members, between yellow and blue are an indication of the Romeo and Juliet and their respective families’ stories of this timeless classic theme of the show and the indicative of the story that unfolds.

We all know what we like about along with what we want to see and hear from this powerhouse of a corps and as always they delivered right from the off. With a vast expansive opening setup and a large prop on side one of the field of the balcony from Romeo and Juliet the corps were ready to give us one heck of a show. As the show developed the sheer quality and power of the whole musical ensemble started to gel together giving many high points in terms of quality and clarity.

A particular highlight for me was the coral section, it was well balanced, tuneful and consistent across the voices and WOW what a finale, power depth and width of field coverage, awesome colour definition within the mid to backfield 

It’s not hard to understand that this show has a mass appeal to all. It has certain design elements in terms of a literal interpretive storyboard which will serve the Scouts well both here in the UK and Europe but will also be a hit when they travel to the US to participate on the DCA circuit were they will get limited reads of the show. Bravo to the Scouts design team in bringing to the field a show that in the writer’s opinion is an instant hit with the fans. 

The Company (“Tomorrow, It’s Just around the Corner”) - Open Class - 2nd - 68.50
Last to take the field were the Company PE to debut their 2017 production with yet another refreshed look and change to their uniform. Unlike in seasons past they have kept and developed the brand rather than going with something totally new and different.

Multiple blue L shaped props reinforce the “just around the corner” ideas of the show and they were moved and used throughout the show to reinforce creative visual moments as well as actual staging which were used to feature musicians and dancers at various points throughout the show. One particular moment featuring the Trumpets was truly amazing for its clarity, tone and timing. The Pat Metheny ballad was inspiring and even from this layman’s perspective given the staging and timing responsibilities place on the musicians handled with ease and grace and concluded in such a special and comprehensive full stop moment that the audience were simply taken aback 

This group has when it comes to electronics have almost mastered the art. The balance clarity depth of sound and overall integration in terms of show design, pacing and usage both from the narration, synthesisers, guitar and general acoustic amplification stood head and shoulders above anything on the day. 

Not unlike Kidsgrove, The Companys show and its design I feel has been shaped to not only appeal to the European fan base and judging system but has also been influenced by their upcoming adventure to the USA to tour and compete in DCI with “Theatrical, Musical, Flamboyance and Creative” attributes in abundance.

So on to picking the placing and winners. Oh No Not Me, Sorry not my job in any way shape or form. That was the job of the Judging team and I don’t envy them at all. From top to bottom I enjoyed every performance and I’ll gladly leave it there on that one. 

Retreat / Results
This writer is always a little disappointed when shows only have Drum Major only results ceremonies / retreats, I just feel there is no real sense of occasion and celebration, no opportunity for the corps members, staff and audience in general to acknowledge each others contributions to the day Now having said that I totally understand and appreciate the many valid and various reasons why on days such as this there isn’t a full retreat but still feel that it’s a shame simply because there’s no sense of collective closure of the days events. 

Mind you the car park and surrounding area was a buzz with corps staff and members listening to and analysing judges comments prior to their critique time. There were parents, friend and families milling around either congratulating or commiserating with corps and corps members dependant on their results. 

My overriding sense of the post show atmosphere was that every corps had enjoyed their own performances and put out their best. The numbers are the numbers and the placings reflect that but it just felt that everyone was pleased to have got the show out of the way and were pleased with the results of all their hard work. 

So here’s the thing. After such a long hot afternoon the journey home from Barnsley was a nice quiet, congestion free, air conditioned affair full of reflection on what was a great start to the 2017 DCUK summer season. Well done one and all.

So the DCUK band Wagon (excuse the pun) travel south for the next instalment on Sunday 2nd July in Woking. Well I can tell you now I can’t wait, see you there.

Jethro Edwards
Reviewer and a DC fan


The full results and recaps for this contest can found on our Results Page


30th June 2017



© Drum Corps United Kingdom 2017
DCUK is a member organisation of Marching & Performing Arts United Kingdom