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The time has come for bands to load up their trucks, props, and performers and begin their journey to the 2018 BOA Grand Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Beginning Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7:45 AM EST, over 100 bands will compete for the chance to be crowned Grand National Champions. However, for some, they may have already competed in some of the most exciting Super Regional contests in BOA history.
So, here are some of the programs that have been lighting it up already in 2018 as they prepare for Grand Nationals.
Blue Springs (MO)
PRELIMS - Day 2 - 9:45 AM
Blue Springs takes the field laying out massive pink tarps in diagonals across the entire field. You might notice the stair-case props similar to the Blue Devils’ 2017 show. As the flutes get things started, the brass form in the middle of the field for a massive opening impact that gets the opening movement going.
Take note of what the brass is asked to do musically during this opening piece. It is not easy. Then the baritones get a feature between the 40-50 yard lines. The side-to-side timing the band has is quite remarkable when they are spread from the 20 to the goal line.
Then a soprano saxophone soloist climbs on top of the stairs behind the pit and blows the roof off the building.
As the furious opening movement comes to a close, a male singer is introduced whose voice is out of this world. Note the front ensemble accompaniment that is literally 45 yards away.
The ballad is filled with moments for the guard to shine, despite their position in the backfield. It's almost like they suddenly doubled in size once the large white/gold swing flags come out as the movement reaches its peak.
After displaying his vocal talents, the singer now switches over to playing the violin to get the next movement going. The closing wave block movements in the drill are challenging to say the least. The energy and excitement Blue Springs brings to the field is contagious.
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 3rd place
Indianapolis Super Regional - Class 4A - Outstanding Visual
St. Louis Super Regional - Finalist - 2nd Place
St. Louis Super Regional - Outstanding General Effect (Tie)
PRELIMS - Day 2 - 9:00 AM
Well, that's a lot of cake. Some pretty complicated stuff from Bentonville (AR) right out of the gate from the woodwinds—not to mention the rest of the band behind them entirely facing the side one end zone while that's happening. And playing along with a bassoon-heavy woodwind group on the stage.
All thirty of the rifles (it's not actually thirty, but there were too many to count) smack dab on the 50 doing ensemble tosses in front of the center cake. It's clear they have some confidence in their talent.
Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention that the ENTIRE band has pink-frosted hair. Okay back to the show.
A beautiful baritone solo transitions the show into "La Vie En Rose." As woodwinds fill out the background with long-tones, the brass does choreography on the turf. The ballad hit is everything you could want it to be. Pretty sure the echo in the dome lasted 3 whole seconds after the cutoff.
Diamonds are a girl's best friend, aren't they? It's really hard to describe the closer other than sultry, jazzy, and fun. Plus, there's a kneeling kick-out at the end, making their own mark on the classic Phantom Regiment staple.
St. Louis Super Regional - Finalist - 14th place
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 11:00 PM
You have to love the opening with the tribal-style singing and some organic body-work that seems to be controlled by the guard member at the top of the main prop (the "eternal spring") on the side one 30 yard-line.
A powerful opener is followed up by a very technical second movement. Even the brass are out there playing runs while doing some crazy upper body movement—such as leaning on the 45 while side-stepping in a block at the same time.
Some pretty difficult timing things happening on the field with the soprano saxophone atop the prop and the rest of the woodwinds entirely on side two of the 50, even as far as the 15-yard line.
Much of this show's staging is actually fairly difficult considering how much of the field the winds actually fill. They're often spread from 15 to 15 or at the very least, 30 to 30—a spread of 70 yards is inexplicably difficult to nail the timing.
A sense of resolution washes over the stadium as the djembe and woodwinds transport us to some hypothetical tribal land filled with water with the beginning of the final movement.
St. Louis Super Regional - Finalist - 11th place
St. Louis Super Regional - Class 2A - Silver Medalist
St. Louis Super Regional - Class 2A - Outstanding Visual and Music
Broken Arrow (OK)
PRELIMS - Day 2 - 3:00 PM
First off, that brass opening is glorious—isolated rhythms, difficult syncopation, a few unisons, capped off with a huge impact that you can feel to your core.
The show is almost like a journey through vignettes of America as the members spell different words in the drill and create the recognizable symbols of America. The music quickly moves from one recognizable melody to another. Throughout most of the show, the brass and woodwinds are constantly tossing the melody back and forth with ease while splitting the field.
Also, the Broken Arrow color guard is gigantic, and they have the talent to match their size. The amount of work they do is unbelievable. They fill every count of the show with something.
Once the trombones and saxophone choirs get going, it's like a party on the field. Pure Americana in jazz with melodies from "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
The transition right afterward is quickly sobering however once the monuments are brought out to symbolize fallen soldiers. All you hear are the sound of flags filling the air, accompanied by a beautifully soft woodwind feature far on side one. The brass coming in just seals the deal. Tears.
St. Louis Super Regional - Finalist - 1st place
St. Louis Super Regional - Outstanding Music, Visual, General Effect (Tie)
St. Louis Super Regional - Class 4A - Champion
St. Louis Super Regional - Class 4A - Outstanding Music, Visual, General Effect
O'Fallon Township (IL)
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 5:45 PM
Revolutionary…again. This show has got to be one of the most fun shows of the season—while also being incredibly demanding.
A typical basics block for any band includes some 8-5s, some 6-5s, backward marching, and slides. Well, for O'Fallon, it's a little different. It's not too often you'll find them moving at an 8-5 forwards or backward on this tarp. They cover ground through some fairly unnatural-looking body movement and very organic choreography.
Basically, the entire opening just draws out the goosebumps.
If you can manage to take your eyes off of the giant neon green pillowcases dancing everywhere, you'll find a pretty talented rifle line amidst all of the craziness.
From pink to green, to now purple. The mood shifts from silly to more lyrical while the band crab-steps themselves into the next hit. The different instrument sections literally attach themselves to one another through purple straps on their wrists and the back of their uniform.
As the next movement begins, a groove quickly starts to emerge only to conclude with a full-out breakdown with the battery section. Next, the trombones start giving it to the crowd on the front sideline while the upper brass is filling in the spaces near the back hash—not easy.
They’ve created a name for themselves covering the entire field with tarp but do not let their skills moving and playing go unnoticed. This will be a band to watch for in Indianapolis.
Tennessee Regional - Finalist - 1st place
Tennessee Regional - Outstanding Music, Visual (Tie), General Effect
Tennessee Regional - Class 4A - Champion
Tennessee Regional - Class 4A - Outstanding Music, Visual, General Effect
St. Louis Super Regional - Finalist - 5th place
Marian Catholic (IL)
PRELIMS - DAY 2 - 5:00 PM
Time for one of the most interesting and confusing shows of the 2018 season. After speaking with Marian Catholic's director Greg Bimm, you may not want to overthink this show. It's actually fairly simple.
It's like three different band shows thrown into one. The transitions are exactly that—transitions.
Part one opens with the battery and with that, quite a bit of tension. Strong low brass sound right out of the gate. As always, this color guard is so talented. Love the "yetis" and the "Twilight Zone" reference as they wrap up part one.
What's most fascinating about this is part two, by far. The group plays "Adagio for Strings" backward. The mirrored clocks on the props symbolize the reversal of time and the music matches perfectly. It has a hint of familiarity that you can't quite place. The guard member with the baby carriage moves backward through time as the winds serenade across the field.
Definitely going to need a second look at the third portion of "Triptych" in Indianapolis during Grand Nationals. It’s easy to get lost in this show by the time the closer comes around.
St. Louis Super Regional - Finalist - 7th place
St. Louis Super Regional - Class 2A - Champion
St. Louis Super Regional - Class 2A - Outstanding General Effect
PRELIMS - Day 2 - 12:45 PM
Time to take a trip to the local mechanic, Jenks High School!
Kicking things off with some flashy impacts matched by the guard's choreography. It's honestly pretty difficult to take your eyes off of this color guard. It seems like there's not a second that they aren't performing—projecting their energy far past the audience in the stands. Pair that with some exciting brass arranging and you've got quite the power in your loud impact moments.
The crowd was also not afraid to give it up for Jenks with all of these general effect-heavy moments.
With the band getting rid of their shakos this year, the demand falls on them as well to raise that performance level and sell the characters that they're trying to embody on the field.
Obviously the main characters in the story, the two male color guard feature performers were just hitting everything. Any men interested in joining a color guard but might be afraid, check out this show. It'll push you to take the leap.
With a couple of weeks prep time Jenks should be a very intriguing band on the radar.
St. Louis Super Regional - Finalist - 3rd place
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 9:15 PM
There is no mistaking when the two-time defending Grand National champions take the field. Carmel walks on to the field knowing they will perform well every time and every time they deliver.
The show begins with an opening sustain from the mellophones on top of their Viking ship prop with an opening fanfare by the rest of the brass. The woodwinds get to show off their musical abilities as the second movement gets started.
Then, the mellophones again get featured by having these two pods of players doing a call and answer. One of the pods is facing backfield to add to the difficulty of ensemble timing of course. As the Flight of the Valkry reaches is pinnacle drill something to behold.
As the band transitions to a trombone soloist on the front left sideline, the world-class guard’s ability to highlight timing with well-placed sabre tosses is unreal. Then as the ballad reaches a climax, the guard covers the field in these massive sail-like flags.
The low brass’ ability to line up the timing of their opening volley during the closer is next level good. They are spread from 10 to 10, and hitting up-beat pickups like its nothing. Carmel’s musical ability to utilize space is also quite beautiful.
Oxford Regional - Finalist - 1st place
Oxford Regional - Outstanding Music, Visual, General Effect
Oxford Regional - Class 4A Champion
Oxford Regional - Class 4A - Outstanding Music, Visual, General Effect
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 1st place
Indianapolis Super Regional - Outstanding Music, Visual, General Effect
Indianapolis Super Regional - Class 4A Champion
Indianapolis Super Regional - Class 4A - Outstanding Music, General Effect
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 7:30 PM
Another band that needs no introduction, Avon has a brand new look to them this season. The show takes place entirely in an aquarium. The band has brightly colored orange tops with scales printed on them. While the guard is dressed in equally bright uniforms that look like fighting fish.
However, in an interesting turn, the show opens with a familiar tune from Romeo and Juliet. The opening trade-off section is beautifully done not only by the musical talents but the drill and guard work as well. As the trumpets come across the middle of the field, their articulation skills are on full display.
As the ballad movement opens, a muted trumpet soloist sets the tone on the left side 25-yard line. Then a saxophone player answers the on side 2 20-yard line. The integration of the guard here is beautiful during the ballad impact.
Next comes the world-class drumline as the classic tale of Romeo fighting for his love continues to play out. The drill during this furious climax is quite unbelievable.
As the show comes to an end, you might notice Romeo and Juliet running off the back side of the field. Does Avon’s take on the classic tale have a twist for a happy ending? We shall see at Grand Nationals.
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 2nd place
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 8:30 PM
Homestead (IN) takes the field using 11 life-size artist mannequins and a set that represents an artist’s studio. After a quick opening impact, Homestead turns to their woodwinds to showcase their technique along the front portion of the field. After the trumpets have a feature surrounding a prop on side 2 35-yard line, a small woodwind ensemble takes the lead again around another prop on side 1 25-yard line.
Then comes a drum feature that gets a little dark while the artist character is tearing apart canvas material. The amount of visual variety happening throughout this show is a lot to take in. The ballad has a beautiful moment for the guard layering in flag work with sabres.
To get the closing number started, the flutes take the lead on side 2 35-yard line. The guard members then begin to introduce new brighter colors signifying that the artist character is having an inspirational moment. While the guard has now fully filled out into a massive block of flags, they drill does some amazing pass throughs while the show builds to an ending. This ending reveals what is in the artist’s mind by quickly raising a printed backdrop full of color and the mannequins mentioned earlier.
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 4th place
Indianapolis Super Regional - Class 3A Champion
Indianapolis Super Regional - Class 3A - Outstanding Visual, General Effect
Lawrence Township (IN)
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 7:45 PM
Lawrence Township (IN) takes the field with a large circular platform with a crown printed on it. The contrasting styles of music versus dance representation to open the show is dramatic, to say the least. After an opening fanfare by the brass, the tempos get cranking.
As the ballad gets started, a saxophone quartet climbs onto the stage for a wonderful feature. This leads to a classic little jam session. You might notice the drill reflects the image printed onto of the stage.
The band’s ability to perform this style of playful jazz is really entertaining to watch. Then, comes one of the most crowd-pleasing moments where a performer raps the entire beginning of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. This leads to a thunderous drum feature. This show is certain to get you tapping your foot and standing in the end.
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 6th place
PRELIMS - Day 2 - 7:15 PM
Fishers takes the field featuring 20 large cage props and host of tigers, aka guard, to go inside said cages. The show opens with a bass clarinet and tuba feature on the left front sideline with a drummer in the back middle cage adding timing. Then a baritone soloist on the 35-yard line side 2 adds to a call-and-answer effect. The low-brass is definitely getting their time at the front of this show as the baritones are featured throughout.
As the show progresses into the ballad, a quartet of trumpet players on side 1 lead us into the next portion of the show. Then you will notice a guard member has now changed uniforms into a white tiger at the 30-yard line side 2.
As the closer gets started the cage props have now caged in the brass between the hashes while the woodwinds are showing off their technical skills along the front sideline. As the show gains momentum, the drill both within the brass and the woodwinds picks up speed as they try to break free.
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 7th place
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 5:15 PM
Castle’s show begins with an opening from the pit and low brass that is quite beautiful. Then a trumpet soloist on the back left prop leads into the opening hit. The integration of the guard is very well done both within the band and vertically onto of the props.
As the next movement gets the tempos cranked up, the band uses some very intricate drill featuring small lines of 4, follow the leader, and box rotations. This builds to larger more robust block moves as the movements climb to a powerful ending. As the mellophones take the melody for the beginning of the ballad, the guard introduces an elastic white stripe material.
After the ballad closes, a flute soloist opens the next movement while on top of a prop at the 40-yard line side 2. Next, the same flute soloist uses her singing skills in conjunction with the battery surrounding her and the rifles spinning along the front sideline.
As the props get pushed together in the middle of the field, the guard takes center stage by spinning on top of and around the prop platform. The closer continues to build towards the end with the band surrounding their lead singer for a powerful ending.
Tennessee Regional - Finalist - 3rd place
Tennessee Regional - Class 3A Champion
Tennessee Regional - Class 3A Outstanding Music, General Effect
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 8th place
Indianapolis Super Regional - Class 3A Outstanding Music
Center Grove (IN)
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 8:00 PM
Center Grove’s approach to marching band design is one of the most unique in the country. Being a smaller program, they make very strategic use of a large tarp and backdrop set up that creates a stage for their show. It’s like looking at a theater show on the marching field. The difference, however, Center Grove’s stage is 80 yards wide and arcs from the front sideline to the back hash.
The show gets started with a techno voice-over hinting at the four directions North, South, East, and West. As the winds make their way from behind the backdrops, it leads to an opening impact where the guard is featured in the middle of the field with some flag work. Next comes a technical passage by the woodwinds followed by a mellophone feature that is unreal. You might notice how the band members continuously make use of small handheld props.
Then comes one of the most brilliantly arranged flute solos that are sure to get everyone on their feet. As the opening number comes to a close, the front ensemble gets a moment to show off their musical chops. This leads into a wonderful French Horn solo of Over The Rainbow. As the ballad reaches its climax, the brass has gone behind the curtains to pull out these ladders which the members climb on top of for the ballad hit. Next comes a furious movement that cranks the tempos to the max.
Next has to be one of the coolest moments in all of BOA. A flute soloist is featured that is not only playing but beatboxing at the same time over-top of a snare feature. Unbelievable talent. This entire production is really something new for the marching arts. The variety throughout the show never stops nor does the use of dimensional space.
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 10th place
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 10:45 PM
Centerville enters the field with a unique set of cylinder props. The grooves in the props a deep enough that when turned at certain angles to the audience they reveal colors painted in the valley of the grooves. It’s very similar to how those 3-D cups work. The front ensemble is staged along the back hash between the 40’s backing up a center stage with 4 mic’s set for soloists.
As the opening jazz number gets going a trombone ensemble pops up from behind front drops and gets things moving. A tasty sax ensemble gets behind the mic’s mentioned earlier leading into a wonderful set of block drill maneuvers. This leads into an SCV-like moment where a guard member is backflipping through the band as the opening tune comes to an end.
The front ensemble continuously sets the jazz mood throughout with a tasteful jazz touch. As the ballad reaches its climax, the guard makes wonderful use of large swing flags that bright green. The next movement continues to showcase this band’s ability to play some incredible jazz.
During the closing number, the guard takes center stage with a flag feature before the band charges to the ending pushing towards the front sideline. This band is known for its jazz capabilities and they do not disappoint.
Oxford Regional - Finalist - 2nd place
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 12th place
Lakota East (OH)
PRELIMS - Day 1 - 10:00 AM
Lakota East made history last year by making the Indianapolis Super Regional finals for the first time in program history. Well folks, they are back and they are hungry for more.
As they take the field, they are accompanied by 25 props that are completely white. As the pre-show begins, the begin to have chunks of them stripped away revealing a solid black line across the entire field. The music reflects that using Orawa’s familiar single melodic line for an opener. As the opener reaches is climatic ending the props again go through another change as a series of vertical lines is added.
What follows is a beautiful clarinet soloist on the 50-yard line. The guard makes simple use of these block props that are two-sided black and white. Then from within those props the guard pulls out a hidden swing flag.
Next, a saxophone ensemble on the front sideline adds a unique new color too the musical palette. Then the props add into this same colorful burst by filling in sections of color representing the De Stijl art movement.
As the closer picks up steam, listen for a wonderful pit run just prior to a drum feature. The last few moments of drill reflect the style of art the show is based upon by creating different moments of box rotations and finally condensing down into a solid block form.
Northwest Ohio Regional - Finalist - 3rd place
Indianapolis Super Regional - Finalist - 13th place
Tarpon Springs (FL)
PRELIMS - Day 2 - 10:30AM
The show we've all been waiting for. Tarpon Springs' "Ready Player One"-themed show called "RP1" has finally made its way out of hiding and onto our screens.
The field is set with massive screens on each 20 and the 50 as three characters emerge blue, yellow, and red. The band runs out from behind the massive screens and comes out to bathe the stadium in glorious chords. The words "Welcome to the Oasis" show up on the screens followed by "find the key." And we're off.
Their drill is impressive, to say the least. Add what they're playing on top of it and you've got a real contender. Tarpon Springs obviously have their eyes set directly on Grand Nationals coming up with this program.
The prop usage is next-level with the massive screens across the field. Each screen is about 5 yards in width and height—they are surprisingly clear, which has been difficult to achieve with screens on the football field.
By the way, the ending is so good that you'll want to see it as many times as you can just so you don't miss a thing.
Orlando Regional - Finalist - 1st place
Orlando Regional - Outstanding Music, Visual, General Effect
Orlando Regional - Class 2A Champion
Orlando Regional - Class 2A Outstanding Music, Visual, General Effect