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To say that the 2018 Bands of America season has been impressive is probably the understatement of the year. I always expect the top drum and bugle corps of the world to come out with something groundbreaking by way of marching arts show design, but this year's BOA season has topped even DCI for me.
The combination of getting to interview some of the best minds in the activity and just simply watching super regional finals has inspired me to put together a list of my top 5 favorite shows I've seen in the 2018 season. This list only includes bands that you will get another chance to see in this weekend's BOA Grand National Championships.
Lakota East and Tarpon Springs are special cases in that I haven't actually interviewed anyone from those schools, I've just simply fallen in love with their programs this year and think they're worth putting down whatever you're doing to watch.
Blue Springs (MO)
This show is ALMOST too good to be true. It's too fun to watch. It appears that the students are having way too much fun. And that vocal/violin soloist is just TOO good.
But it's all true. Blue Springs has my heart this year and I couldn't be more excited for what this season means for their future. After seeing their show last year "Burtonized", I knew they were doing cool things. But this year was a giant step in the right direction after their back-to-back second-place finishes in St. Louis and tie with Broken Arrow in the general effect caption this year.
O'Fallon Township (IL)
After speaking with the dynamic duo behind this year's program "Stretching The Canvas," I just wanted to watch this show more and more. Just watching the parents roll out the tarp is a spectacle in itself. Then, the band gets on the field and completely steals the show. The design is fun, different, and very difficult if you consider how many techniques the performers must execute.
Watch O'Fallon Township perform in Grand National prelims on Thursday, November 8 at 5:45 PM ET.
Marian Catholic (IL)
This is a weird one, folks. And that's why I like it so much. Marian Catholic is one of the most historical programs in BOA competition. The group has consistently made finals longer than I've been alive.
This year's show is a 3-part marching band show. It's three fairly different ideas that are chained throughout the show with small "intermissions." Each part has a different feel, a different tone, and displays a smorgasbord of techniques through the three different lenses.
Lakota East (OH)
Lakota East doesn't have the longest history of success in BOA, in fact they just made Super Regional finals for the first time ever last year. The group's show design and talent pool have grown hand in hand making them a force to be reckoned with as of recent.
Their 2018 show "Line, Shape, and Color" shows a sophistication, yet an approach that is still accessible to the audience. It's very easy to follow along as each new element is added into a Mondrian-esque aesthetic across the props in the backfield. This band's size also makes them a blast to listen to when they open up all the way.
Lakota East performs at 10:00 AM ET on Thursday, November 8.
Tarpon Springs (FL)
We've only gotten to see Tarpon once this fall, down at the BOA Orlando Regional. They wowed me then and I know they won't disappoint this weekend in the dome. Their show features three characters and takes you into the world of virtual reality. Using large screens and clear color changes, they take you along the story of the show paired with their absolutely dominant technique.
Watch Tarpon Springs perform at 10:30 AM ET on Friday, November 9.