by Andrew Wheeler, DCW staff
I’ve never really attended many pre-season drum corps events before, but this year seems to be providing a variety of them. Last week, it was the Cavaliers’ annual get-together at Gameworks (why do I always type that as “Frameworks” and then have to go back and correct it?) in Schaumburg, IL. This week, it was Pioneer’s Spring Concert, the 2004 “Shamrock Festival of Music,” spring edition.
I donned my Southwind polo shirt, climbed in the car, put in my “Phantom Regiment Classics” CD (the one I always associate with traveling to/from drum corps events) and headed north of the norder (the Illinois/Wisconsin border, that is) for Waukesha, WI.
Perhaps some readers will understand my feelings as I neared the high school parking lot and caught sight of the Kilties’ truck, my first drum corps “sighting” of the year. I admit that my eyes moistened a bit as the sense of excitement I felt proclaimed loudly, “Summer is here!” Walking through the parking lot and listening to a couple of groups practicing — well, you know what I mean.
Pioneer’s spring concert featured several high school groups as well as the Kilties and Pioneer. The afternoon began with the Waukesha South High School band playing the National Anthem. They followed this up with a bright, fast-paced number that got the concert off to a great start; this number would make really good marching music.
Following the band were three high school drum lines. First up was Oma Ana, Children of the Spirit of the Drum. This African drumming group featured hand drums in the opener with a neat visual incorporating cups and the drums. These drums were then joined by a bass/tenor/snare drum trio that drew applause from the crowd. Two energetic dancers accompanied some of the music and the traditional clothing worn by some of the members helped contribute to the mood.
The Waukesha South Blackshirt Drum Line was next up, featuring a drum-corps-like array of “pit” and battery percussion instruments. Marimbas and xylophones were highlighted throughout much of their performance, which was definitely worthy of the drum corps audience.
This was followed by the John Marshall High School “Screamin’ Eagles” drum line. The nine drummers, decked out in marching uniforms, entered the stage to a cadence and took the audience by storm with their rhythmic and loud performance.
A brief intermission preceded the Kilties’ performance. This gave me a chance to step out to the lobby and buy my first souvenirs of the summer from the Kilties’ souvenir stand. Drum Corps Midwest also had a very nice setup there, with information about the DCM championships later this summer and brochures from some of the member corps.
After intermission, the Kilties took the stage, entering to the sound of bagpipes. Under the leadership of new Director Mike Phillips (formerly of the Renegades), the Kilties are looking for a top-10 finish this year.
Their program, “Portraits in Plaid,” gave a hint of some of the possibilities, including the trademark wailing sopranos which drew applause from the crowd. After three straight drum line performances, the crowd was definitely ready for a full corps and the Kilties did not disappoint. A standing ovation accompanied their exit, once again to the sound of bagpipes.
Closing out the afternoon was Pioneer with music from their show, “Return to Ireland.” Fast-paced and well-played, with a lot of variety, the show tantalized the crowd with visions of
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