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Keep up with all of the bands performing in the 2019 BOA Indianapolis Super Regional Finals whether you can watch or not—written by Jeff Griffith.
7:15 PM ET | EXHIBITION: Western (IN)
Alright, what's up everybody, Jeff Griffith coming to you live from Indy. It's been a long couple of days of band here, but we're kicking it off with what looks to be a really cool show from our Class 'A' champions, Western. The show is titled "In the Eye of the Beholder," and it features various props shaped like block letter I's, with tarps that extend from them to look like shadows.. I'm up really high for these Finals, so I can see everything when it comes to visual forms, and I have been quite impressed with Western's cleanliness from that perspective. There are a lot of visual cues to the idea of individualism and uniqueness in this show that are staged quite well. Musically speaking, I was most struck by some of the soloists, namely a flute, saxophone and clarinet trio that highlights the ballad movement of the show.
7:30 PM ET | Lawrence Township (IN)
I had the chance to see this show yesterday and it's so much fun. The title is "Harlem at Midnight," and you're really swept right into the Harlem night-club from the very beginning. You're welcomed there by two phenomenal main character singers, one male and one female, who really sell the overall vibe of the show. This one's full of energy and rife with great jazz charts, including a personal favorite, Louis Armstrong's "Heebie Jeebies." This is really one you have to see with your own eyes and hear with your own ears to get the full effect, but it fully excels at the age-old challenge of marching band design — keeping full energy and engagement from start to finish. There's even a bit of audience engagement in the form of a call-and-response, which one of the main characters taught the crowd during the preview show. Oh, and the show's not just fun, this band is really good, musically especially; they've very much captured the jazz spirit well in their sound and performance energy.
7:45 PM ET | Brownsburg (IN)
Brownsburg now takes the field, and the first thing you can't help but notice is a major pop of color, especially from the props, which look kind of like rubik's cubes, if rubik's cubes were blue, pink, neon green, black and white. The color guard uniforms also match this design which meshes well. The show itself is called "Twisted" and it features segments ofJames Barnes' Third Symphony, "The Tragic." The props largely drive the visual cues of the show and their layout often dictates how the field is utilized; at times, they're clumped together, other times they're scattered. I really like the way the color guard is used in the show, especially at the beginning when all the props are in the middle of the field and color guard members dance on top of them to ethereal music; with the props and costuming being similar, this is a really cool visual moment, particularly from up top.
8:00 PM ET | Castle (IN)
As part of their show "Mad Hope," Castle does some really cool things musically, largely featuring "Fix You" by Coldplay and "Mad World" by Gary Jules. The two, somewhat surprisingly, play off of each other, and create the exact juxtaposition the band is looking for. Up high, I have to say, I was so impressed with the visual proficiency of this group. Something tells me I'm going to be saying that a lot tonight with this view, but man, some of these forms were so tight and hit so well. And Castle's sound really reached the rafters, especially on some of the key moments of the ballad and closer. The closer, by the way, was awesome. Fantastic drill which was executed really well, and a really impactful reprise of "Fix You." Really enjoyed this show from start to finish.
8:15 PM ET | North Hardin (KY)
And now for the AA champions. North Hardin's show has a really intriguing design; the field is littered with stage-like props, and there's a three-tiered black stage in the center of the field, kind of like a really flat, black wedding cake, with microphones on it. That's a fun image, right? Anyway, back on track. North Hardin's show is called "Lost in Translation," and has a lot of cool moments, including a visual one at the start of the show where all of the band emerges from behind the aforementioned small stages and gradually fills the field in a set of circular follow-the-leaders. I'd say the thing that stuck out most about this show was the controlled — yet frenetic — energy. There were some moments of this show that really drove with chaotic and exciting pacing, and that made it really fun to follow. The pace, however, really mellowed — in a good way — during the ballad, which was a really memorable arrangement of "All By Myself."
8:30 PM ET | Mustang (OK)
Okay, this show is... just wild. You've got a full band decked out in park ranger uniforms, and about 30 other individuals wearing full-on dinosaur costumes. Oh, and by the way, the show is called "Rawr." Not "Roar." "Rawr." That's amazing. What's crazy, though, is the show really isn't cheesy. There are some really memorable musical moments, especially the ballad, which was so lyrical and featured beautiful woodwind solos. But... yeah, it's still kind of hard to look up from those solos and see a pack of dinosaurs prancing across the away hash and not chuckle a little bit — but not in a negative way, this show is just the exact amount of fun and lighthearted that makes a great high school band show. Mustang took a risk with such a humorous-by-nature design aspect, and it was a worthwhile one, in my opinion.
8:45 PM ET | Center Grove (IN)
Center Grove's show is definitely a swing back in the more serious direction, certainly not in a bad way at all, though. It's title "Bridges > Walls," and you see a lot of visual cues to the concept of building and breaking barriers, most notably at the start of the show when pairs of brick-wall props are pulled away from one another to open space for the band to fill the middle of the field. I'd say I was most impressed with Center Grove from a visual perspective; there are a lot of cool drill moments in this show that really have to be executed perfectly to stick, and that's exactly what happens. In terms of memorable moments, there's one movement where the band plays "Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd, and that section definitely has some fun energy. I really enjoyed the ending, too; after a long stretch of driving vibes, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" really ties things back to a place of satisfaction and resolution. Both in the use of that song and in a major change to the props, the symbolism of "bridges" winning out is perfectly apparent in the show's final moments.
9:00 PM ET | Fishers (IN)
Fishers certainly fills the field from the get-go, with a very colorful set of tarps covering a good 25 percent of the field along the left and back boundaries. The tarps basically look like a sea of Skittles or M&Ms, and are outlined by what looks like a game board, which makes valid sense when you know the show is called "Candide Sweet." So, in a simplified sense, it's a show about candy. And it's fun. I don't know if this is intentional, but some of the props definitely gave me Willy Wonka vibes. Anyway, let's talk about the band itself; I'd say the visual execution was once again at a high level with this band, and there were some really impactful musical moments to boot. I really liked the way the members captured the playful energy that's meant to accompany a show such as this one; it's hard to do that without being corny or tacky, and I wouldn't use either of those words to describe Fishers' performance. I'm getting specific here, but I really enjoyed Fishers' battery writing. I'm a percussionist by trade, so tasty (Get it? Like candy) writing always catches my ear. Also, final side note, this show had a really, really cool visual moment, wherein the whole band turned away from the audience, and then quickly turned back around to reveal a uniform change that featured a section-by-section splash of color along the front side of the uniform jackets.
9:15 PM ET | O'Fallon Township (IL)
This is one of the bands where I'm getting my second read, and I like O'Fallon Township's show a whole lot more on a second viewing. That's not say I didn't like it when I caught it in St. Louis, but I definitely missed some things that stuck this time around. The show, "Architecture in Motion," is very much driven visually, and I think seeing it up high from start to finish changed a lot of the way I viewed it. This show has so much energy in the start, and I can - not - get - e - nough of the opening impact. I don't even really know why, it just really grips me, musically. Back to the visual package though, there's maybe 50 red cubes that drive the development of this show, and the way they're so multi-use in terms of how they can be stacked, scattered, and so forth, really pushes the idea of "Architecture in Motion." To me, it's kind of like seeing all the different ways you can creatively use a really simple object or concept, and that's the thread I see unfold most from a visual perspective. (But of course, I could be wrong). Either way, I like this show a lot, and was really impressed by the musicianship of O'Fallon even though a lot of the visual moments were the ones that struck me.
9:30 PM ET | Carmel (IN)
I've been involved in the marching music world for a good three years now in earnest — 10 as a fan — and this was my first time ever seeing Carmel perform live. I was impressed, as you'd expect. "Eternal Beloved" is really a beautiful show, and has such a cool medieval feel to its visual sign, complete with cobble stone arches and a full circular prop with the same texture in the back-middle of the field. The musicianship in particular was astounding, there were some really impressive technical passages of music even in the very early-going of the show that dropped my jaw. But it was really a full package when it came to the quality — there wasn't one thing that stuck out, everything was just so well founded in precision, balance, cleanliness, performance quality, you name it. As far as moments that really stuck out to me, I very much enjoyed the ballad; there were truly beautiful solos, both in the way they were arranged and designed and in the way they were executed. All in all, first time watching the three-time defending Grand National champions lived up to the hype.
9:45 PM ET | Lincoln-Way (IL)
If there's one word I could use to describe Lincoln-Way when they first take the field, it's... green. Holy cow, there's so much green — head-to-toe in body-suit uniforms, all over the props, and it looks really cool. I couldn't help but notice, though, that every member of the band makes a point to never face the audience while setting up the field. And there's a reason for that — their entire front side is covered with purple and pink. And yeah, that's a really cool effect when they turn around for the first time. So, with that, let's dig into the show itself. It's called, "Scene/UnSeen," so naturally you get a lot of optical illusion-type effects like the one already mentioned, as well as the use of a tarp that covers up the logo at the middle of the field and is designed to look like the continuation of the field lines. This show was obviously really cool visually, but there were some memorable musical moments as well. The most notable such moment, to me, was the ballad. Not only did it have cool drill moments, but it was really pretty, and the horn line really did a good job of managing dynamics throughout it. Really impressed by the battery for Lincoln-Way, too. That said, I couldn't stop being enthralled by the green-to-purple/pink effect every time it was used. That's just so eye-catching. Loved this show.
10:00 PM ET | Avon (IN)
Okay, so, what I said about Carmel, but with Avon. First read, everything lived up to expectation. "Unbaroquen" certainly checks all the boxes of building its own aesthetic, both musically and visually, and kind of has the feel of a deconstructed view of that "baroque" period style. This show has a lot of visual and theatrical cues, but goodness, I think it was most engaging to me musically. The opener alone dropped my jaw in terms of its design and execution musically; slowly Avon took the recognizable melody of Pachelbel's "Canon," and deconstructed it, turned it into chaos, and then pulled out. I really found it interesting how Avon took that buttoned-up, classical sound of many pieces and modernized it, whether it be with synthesizer patches, electric guitars. Oh, and the drill was just incredible, so many eye-catchingly clean and difficult moments. But my favorite part by far was the ballad, when Avon reprised "Canon," and did so beautifully, with really impressive section-to-section dynamic exchanges and a really memorable solo. Another slam dunk, and it's not hard to see why these guys won class AAAA in Prelims. This show was so creative, so fun to follow, so unique, and so well-executed. Stunning.
10:15 PM ET | Homestead (IN)
Homestead's show is called "The Reclamation Point," and one of the first things that caught my eye — it's kind hard for it not to — was a tarp that covered the Colts helmet with another helmet shape, but this one was the color and texture of rusty metal. That kind of color look really governs the overall visual palette of the show, but being completely honest, the visual side of this show was slightly secondary to me to its musical moments. There were some really impressive passage of music, including some wicked triple-tonguing out of a trumpet quartet. Even despite the second movement having some of the more technically challenging musical moments — and it has plenty of them — I really enjoyed the ballad the most; yes, I know, that's kind of been a common thread with this liveblog, but this was one was more than up to part with some of the many beautiful ballads we heard tonight. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good ballad. This show had a cool visual culmination, though, as many of the rusty-looking props were altered to reveal flowers and plants and generally signs of life. The tarp at midfield was changed to reveal a flowery-looking Colts helmet, as well. Very cool show concept!
10:30 PM ET | Lockport Township (IL)
"The Tribe" is definitely an impressive show, and I was most struck by the visual abilities of Lockport Township. There are some really impressive passages of drill, and from my vantage point, with white shakos and plumes, it was really eye-catching to watch those moments pulled off so effectively. A lot of bands have clean forms, but one thing I was specifically impressed by was Lockport Township's member-to-member consistency in terms of visual technique. In terms of specific moments that stuck out to me, I really thought Lockport Township's woodwind feature was stunning — a lot of runs and syncopated rhythms traded back and forth between subsections of the woodwind group, and that made for some really cool, engaging listening, especially when executed so well. This show ended on a really strong note as well, I thought; this was a really sound show all-around.
10:45 PM ET | Blue Springs (MO)
This was another show I had the chance to see in St. Louis, and I just can’t get enough of it. I love the music selections and the way they’re arranged and incorporated throughout the show. The three that really stick out to me are “Land of Make Believe,” “Pure Imagination” and “The Impossible Dream.” I love all three, and Blue Springs does all three so well. I specifically enjoyed the use of “Pure Imagination” as an opening impact; it’s a much more “band-y” arrangement of it than the original piece of music would allude to, and it allows for a really strong set of impactful chords to set the tone for the show. With no disrespect to any other bands, that opening hit is probably my favorite moment I've seen this season, I just love it. The closer, though, was so cool, as it took the three melodies I previously mentioned and wove them back together in a really smart and smooth way, which isn't easy to do without it seeming forced, and I just love that kind of thing when done right. Really good stuff, Blue Springs. With this being Blue Spring's finally show of the year, congratulations are in order on a great season!