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San Antonio Finals Review

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Now that I've been able to catch up on all of the sleep I lost this past weekend, it's time to write the Finalist review! I'll post a podcast soon about what I thought of the contest, along with score breakdowns.


14th Place: Colleyville Heritage H.S. - 84.45

I was very impressed with this group at Arlington and Saturday night was no different. The band starts out talking to each other before erupting into fast paced drill and intense music. The silent drill after the BE QUIET! command was very well timed. The Chairman Dances sounded great, even with the band spread out over the field. The flute solo/pit feature of Flight of The Bumblebee was fantastic! It was very technically clean, but what I was probably most impressed with was the timing between the flautist on the field and the pit. No breaks from switiching from solo to soli parts. The ballad features band members running to each other and spreading rumors about each other. I'm curious as to what they were saying to each other! The percussion section was ohhhhh so clean! Great job! The Shout part brought the house down. Fantastic job Colleyville! I see nothing but great things in your future.


13th Place: Hebron H.S. - 85.75

I was really hoping these guys would make it in to San Antonio Finals, as I felt that they should have been there in Arlington as well. Hebron has never been afraid to fly around the field while playing and this year was no different. Formations were hitting very well and the Wave theme was very evident in the drill design. The body movement transition from the opener into the ballad was extremely effective, utilizing varying tempos of movement. Snippets of America, The Beautiful were very well played. The full band Soulja Boy dance made everyone tap into their Hip Hop soul. Fantastic job! I understand Hebron suffered a few injuries before the Finals show. I hope everyone is okay and in good health now. Way to go, Hebron!


12th Place: Brazoswood H.S. - 86.60

The pre-show starts with loud thunderclaps coming from the pit. The opener is very percussive. Even though the pit was on the right side of the field, the timing between the band and pit was right on. The band was hidden behind large props depicting an approaching thunderstorm. When the band "cascaded" down from the clouds, I began to think about whether I brought my umbrella or not! Water Night was very well played, with crisp tones and pure sound. Aegean is never easy to put on the field put this band did about as good of a job as any. The show ends with the band collapsing on itself with the guard surrounding them with yellow flags. After all, it wouldn't be a rainstorm if the Sun didn't show up at the end! What a great musical performance by Brazoswood and a great musical arrangement ($1 to Daniel Montoya Jr.) Nice job, folks!!!!


11th Place: Cedar Park H.S. - 87.90

This light-hearted show had the crowd smiling throughout the performance. Great job by the brass section on Dance of the Tumblers, low brass especially. Way to dig through those 16th notes! The band pulled off their body movements very well and with ease. Fine, fine soloist work. Claire de Lune made me tingle. You heard some of the purest tones coming from the woodwind section. The phrasing in the ballad was very well done. The closer showed off some fast drill, just like in the opener. The winking smiling face at the end was a favorite of mine. It was the first time that a drill form actually flirted with me! These guys made sure to remind you to smile at the end and they were certainly successful in doing so. What I found most impressive about the band this year was the drill design and integration of body movements. You see a lot of pursuit-like movements throughout the show as the band pursues happiness. The drill had some of the best field coverage of the night. They always kept your eyes moving, and I love it when a program can pull that off. Bravo to you, Cedar Park! Keep up the great work!


10th Place: Berkner H.S. - 88.70

Powerful low brass section! Great job throughout! The Labyrinth themed music was conveyed with complex forms that kept you looking for a way out of the maze. The woodwinds were very clean, especially through technical passages. Even with complex music, the band didn't seem to get tired at the end. Some of the hardest brass work came at the end and these guys did such a great job with it. All around, Berkner had a solid show and it sounded like they really maxed out for Finals. Very nice job, Berkner!


9th Place: Westfield H.S. - 89.10

Once the field judge said go, their show began. The pre-show consisted of piano and guitar music coming from backfield while the euphonium soloist went to down. I don't think he ever stopped playing and honestly, I didn't want him to stop! Outstanding work! The form takes turns closing itself off and reopening. Very clever movement. The drill was very difficult, yet very clean. The woodwinds had fantastic technique dealing with the varying rhythmic challenges of the music. Percussion was rocking, as always. Very clean. As you watch the show, you see the euphonium step into different parts of the band in an attempt to fit in. At one point, he joins his own section. At the beginning of the ballad, you see him in a flute-only form. The closer resolves very well, as the opener is quite intense. The euphonium plays One as the band leaves the field. Overall, the show is very eerie and the band does a great job of portraying the different emotions of the show. Way to go, Westfield!


8th Place: Haltom H.S. - 89.40

The show starts out with the brass section playing into the back corner of the field as the woodwinds are on both knees and seem to be in deep thought. The Mythical Rite was pulled off very well on the field. Nice balance between brass and woodwinds. Great bassoon solist. The percussion section was just on fire. The clarinet soloist in the ballad made you feel at piece. What great phrasing and tone! He had the crowd in awe. The show is packed with directional changes and the band handles it like it was nothing. Great posture and movement. The clarinet soloist comes back at the end and the interweaving between his part and the rest of the band was spectacular. Haltom had an extremely solid show with just enough dark and light emotion. Awesome job, Haltom!


7th Place: James Bowie H.S. - 90.05

The show starts off quietly with brief quotes from West Side Story. Then, pow! What a big sound from the band! The first movement from On The Town was very well done, both visually and musically. I love seeing drill set to syncopated music and these guys did a fine job with it. The woodwinds had no problem with technical passages. There were parts of the drill that made the students look like they were flying around the field. The big, powerful sound from the band made sure that everyone knew they had arrived. They used their half black, half white uniforms quite well, generating some cool effects. I enjoyed this show thoroughly. Fantastic job, Bowie!!


6th Place: Richland H.S. - 90.20

iShow. How can you not anticipate a cool performance with a title like that???? From the voiceovers to the HALO music, everything about this show is very modern. The drill velocity is just ridiculous. There are some moves in this show that I can only define as death-defying. Richland does a fantastic job of focusing your attention on one part of the field and then briefly, taking that attention away to something else. The two line rotations with about a one step interval were done extremely well. The props gives the field a nice clean look. The ribbon set in the ballad was very moving. The show has great music, fantastic drill, and a concept that everyone can enjoy. What a great job, Richland! Good luck at Nationals!!!


5th Place: Ronald Reagan H.S. - 90.35

Nice drill design at the beginning. We go from the bottom left corner to the back right corner of the field in about a minute. The show, for the most part, is very dark and technical. The haunting Berlioz quotes are peppered throughout the show and the low brass does a great job with them. The last minute and a half of the show is a huge change in style from the rest of the show. The resolution at the end is nothing short of glorious. Some very effective pass-thrus and large "curvalinear" forms only add to the great resolution. The brass sounded fantastic at the end! They are right up front and aren't afraid to unleash the power. All around, a great performance from Reagan! Good luck at Nationals!!!


4th Place: Winston Churchill H.S. - 91.70

This show was one of the most personal of the night, not just for me, but for the whole crowd. Multiple letters from real soldiers in Iraq were used, each one more emotional than the last. The opener featured quick formations and even quicker transitions. The drumline sounded very clean with their difficult book. The guard, as always, was on fire. Some of tosses and catches were just insane. Toss it. Turn around. Bend over. Catch it between your legs. Wow! The ballad features parts of two letters while a flute soloist plays Amazing Grace. The full band musical quote of Amazing Grace was very focused. A moment of silence was observed and shortly after, the guard, with white flags in hand, began a jaw-dropping flag routine. I closed my eyes after that feature and for a brief moment, I thought I was just five miles down the road from my place: The Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetary. Star Spangled Overture was played very well. The ending brought the crowd to tears, if they weren't already. A giant yellow ribbon was tied on the left side of the field. Fantastic job to Churchill. It was all for Graham. We miss you buddy.


3rd Place: The Woodlands H.S. - 92.85

EVERYTHING about this show is difficult!!!! The drill, the music, the movement, the guard work. Everything. The field is covered in small turf-colored tarps that are turned over to reveal numbers. The cool thing about the tarps is that because are so intricately designed into the drill, the band members rarely have to step out of form to turn them over. Unbelievable design! The body movement of the entire band is just amazing. There are live voiceovers that sing numbers in various musical styles. Very cool! The sound is amazing and they sound just as good standing still and they do moving. There is so much going on in this show musically and visually. Extreme complexity is the name of the game. This show had me racking my brain trying to figure the puzzle out. At the end, all the tarps are turned over which creates a sense of resolution, emphasized by the white numbers on the back of the dark green tarps. The woodwinds come to the very front at the end and throw down some insane licks. I enjoyed this show so much. Beautiful job to The Woodlands. Good luck at Nationals!!!!


2nd Place: L.D. Bell H.S. - 94.80

Once again, these guys can march and play with the best of them. The pre-show is Lux Aurumque A little girl can be found in various places on the field, singing the Pan Labyrinth lullaby......AND IT WAS SO darn CREEPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Along with the little girl is a person wrapped completely in yellow. Again, very creepy! The drill design is about as effective as I've ever seen. The transitions from idea to idea are very well thought out and performed. The music feels very relaxed but just when you feel yourself settling in, they hit you with large visual and musical statements. The last part of the show left the crowd speechless. Lux is introduced again. This piece has become a staple in their repetoire. The band then forms pods on the back half of the field. The guard reached for their large white coverings. They were actually parts of the giant white sheet from last year that were cut up and sewn. The guard coveres the pods with the sheets. Now, everything is white. The Clouds of Heaven. The little girl comes back with the lullaby as the guard, now covered in all yellow , surrounds her. The show ends. And our mouths were still open. This show is amazing. What is scary is that they have a week in between San Antonio and Nationals. If we've learned anything from the past, we've learned that these guys are not afraid to add to their show during crunch time. Amazing job, L.D. Bell! Good luck at Grand Nationals!!!!!


1st Place: Marcus H.S. - 96.20

The record breaker! The flute and oboe soloists turned me into mush. The low brass sounds like one big string bass on the field. In fact, the whole band sounds like they are sitting down the whole time. The ladybug made everyone laugh. The trumpet statement when they surround the ladybug in an arc was unbelievable!!!! Loud, full, and perfectly in tune. Make Our Garden Grow was another part that pushed my Mush Button. Beautiful english horn solo. They give you a full, rich sound that is unique and pure. No one is sticking out of the ensemble. Just a gorgeous sound. These guys always seem to save their hardest music for the end and this year was no different. The trumpets double tonging at the end sounded just as crisp and as clear as they did in the opener. Their motion, like their musical performance, is very unique. Economy of motion. They are able to use their drill to the highest degree of effect. They perform their drill amazingly well. Again, listening to them, you'd think they were sitting down. Just outstanding! Congratulations to Marcus and their amazing performance! Congratulations on your Super Regional Championship!


I had an amazing time at the Super Regional this year! Thank you to Music For All for the Media Passes. Thank you to all of you who came up and said hello. Thank you to all who support this site! I hope you've enjoyed the review!

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