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2021 BOA Grand Nationals (Nov. 11-13)


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A shame Tarpon Springs seemed to have dropped out since they haven't been back at Grand Nats since 2018, but this still looks like it'll be one of the strongest pools of bands in years. All seven Texas bands are strong contenders for finals, and with Broken Arrow and Blue Springs back this year along with the usual Midwestern bands this is going to be seriously competitive.

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I'll miss Tarpon, but Blue Springs and Wando provide pretty great replacements.

Official list scan. I've marked 16 bands as potential finalists, with asterisks next to the 12 "best-shots at finals." This is the most I've ever marked in several decades of doing this. And it's not just the quantity. We've got every San Antonio champion going back through 2012 attending this contest. That's crazy. Kind of a dream come true as well, speaking as a spectator.

Avon*, Blue Springs*, Broken Arrow*, Carmel*, Claudia Taylor Johnson*, Dobyns-Bennett, Flower Mound*, Homestead, Marcus*, O'Fallon Township, Ronald Reagan*, Round Rock, The Woodlands*, Vista Ridge*, Wando*, and William Mason*.

I'm assuming most of these bands are around as good as they were in their last national finals appearances, but that may not be the case for some. I'm wondering about Wando in particular. Their 2018 show about the work of Alexander Calder was absolutely fantastic -- I recall thinking they should have placed even higher than they did, which was 6th, I believe. If Wando is still at that level, they will be in finals. But, are they still at that level? I don't know.

Round Rock is one of two Texas Nats groups I've seen this year. As of last week, I think they sound and look like a national finalist band in the making, at least when compared to my prototypical idea of a national finalist group. The problem is that this year is so obscenely competitive that my prototype is probably out of date. To make it into finals, they'll need to beat both Dobyns-Bennett (a consistent Cartwright finalist) AND Wando, or a couple of the other seemingly surer bets. That's going to be difficult, I think.

O'Fallon Township, yeah, they probably won't survive the TX onslaught this year, but their last show in finals was very memorable for me.

William Mason nearly returned to their 2016 form in 2019, so I'm not concerned about them. I think they'll probably topple a few groups that many are assuming they won't beat.

Dobyns-Bennett is probably the most difficult for me to place. Consistent finalist group with Cartwright designing for them. They could probably beat both Wando and TWHS with a truly great year.

TWHS I'm a little less worried about after seeing. No bells and whistles yet, and maybe the music is a bit too stand tune-ish for my tastes, but they sound pretty fantastic in the full ensemble moments. They also have the resources to make it a big production.

Blue Springs and Vista Ridge... difficult to place in my mind. Blue Springs did amazingly well in 2018 with a show I really enjoyed, and had a strong, though less impressive, 2019 show. (I was all about Haltom at that St. Louis show.) Vista Ridge is a group I've been consistently underestimating, even after seeing their performances in the context of a finals competition. It's unusual for me to be so... wrong?... after watching a show. Ha. But such is the level of competition these days. Lots of great groups, including Vista.

All the other bands with asterisks, I'll be shocked if they miss finals. It's essentially an oversized list of 1st place contenders.

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3 minutes ago, Rubisco said:

Round Rock is one of two Texas Nats groups I've seen this year. As of last week, I think they sound and look like a national finalist band in the making, at least when compared to my prototypical idea of a national finalist group. The problem is that this year is so obscenely competitive that my prototype is probably out of date. To make it into finals, they'll need to beat both Dobyns-Bennett (a consistent Cartwright finalist) AND Wando, or a couple of the other seemingly surer bets. That's going to be difficult, I think.

I wouldnt bet against Round Rock making finals personally

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1 minute ago, shaggy said:

I wouldnt bet against Round Rock making finals personally

It's certainly a possibility; I just think it's an uphill battle, given the level of the competition. Like I said, I've seen Round Rock, and they seem to be in good shape. They're also used to coming out on top in uphill battles in recent years.

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5 minutes ago, Rubisco said:

They're also used to coming out on top in uphill battles in recent years.

Yeah idk if I would put them in front of Wando normally but I think just based on the fact that they have a reputation of getting a finals spot out of nowhere the last few years I like their odds. 

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2 hours ago, Rubisco said:

TWHS I'm a little less worried about after seeing. No bells and whistles yet, and maybe the music is a bit too stand tune-ish for my tastes, but they sound pretty fantastic in the full ensemble moments. They also have the resources to make it a big production.

And dannngggg, that GUARD!!  ???

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2 hours ago, shaggy said:

I wouldnt bet against Round Rock making finals personally

I don’t think anyone is betting against any of these top 16 bands just yet. Problem is, there’s only 12 finalist spots. This year there will certainly be some jaws dropping when the top 12 are announced and some of the “never miss” bands names aren’t called. #whatacontest

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  • 2 weeks later...

Anybody else catch Castle's Menlo Park show? It immediately stood out to me because of the interesting concept, and now that I've seen it, I'm really digging it. The giant glow sticks! It's cool when they pulse them in time. Some ugly sounds every now and then, which hopefully they're able to mitigate, but the show is keeping my attention. I'm wondering if this will contend for a finals spot. Hard to tell given the extreme level of competition.

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10 minutes ago, Rubisco said:

Anybody else catch Castle's Menlo Park show? It immediately stood out to me because of the interesting concept, and now that I've seen it, I'm really digging it. The giant glow sticks! It's cool when they pulse them in time. Some ugly sounds every now and then, which hopefully they're able to mitigate, but the show is keeping my attention. I'm wondering if this will contend for a finals spot. Hard to tell given the extreme level of competition.

I really like their show this year. I can see them slipping into GN Finals.

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The Indiana band I've got my eyes on this season is Brownsburg. Not only do they sound better than they ever have for this early in the season, but their show is by far my favorite out of what I've seen this year. Everything about the show just hits perfectly. Visually, they have some of the most striking and appealing uniforms I've ever seen and their props of the same color are like trees and move around the field with members climbing on top of them. Musically, they create a such a diverse soundscape that puts every section on show. And they only have half their show! Very excited to see what this program can achieve this year.

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8 minutes ago, abtwitch said:

The Indiana band I've got my eyes on this season is Brownsburg. Not only do they sound better than they ever have for this early in the season, but their show is by far my favorite out of what I've seen this year. Everything about the show just hits perfectly. Visually, they have some of the most striking and appealing uniforms I've ever seen and their props of the same color are like trees and move around the field with members climbing on top of them. Musically, they create a such a diverse soundscape that puts every section on show. And they only have half their show! Very excited to see what this program can achieve this year.

I was impressed with them last time. Not quite there then, but I can see them progressing there. The problem is that there are so many that are already at the finals level. You have to pass a lot of bands to reach the finals.

 

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29 minutes ago, Hard Core Band Fan said:

I was impressed with them last time. Not quite there then, but I can see them progressing there. The problem is that there are so many that are already at the finals level. You have to pass a lot of bands to reach the finals.

 

Absolutely, they'd have to improve drastically to qualify for finals this year, but based on what I've seen it's more likely than most would think.

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4 hours ago, Rubisco said:

Anybody else catch Castle's Menlo Park show? It immediately stood out to me because of the interesting concept, and now that I've seen it, I'm really digging it. The giant glow sticks! It's cool when they pulse them in time. Some ugly sounds every now and then, which hopefully they're able to mitigate, but the show is keeping my attention. I'm wondering if this will contend for a finals spot. Hard to tell given the extreme level of competition.

I am really digging it this year as well!  I have VERY high hopes for the Castle Marching Knights this season. 

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6 hours ago, Rubisco said:

Anybody else catch Castle's Menlo Park show? It immediately stood out to me because of the interesting concept, and now that I've seen it, I'm really digging it. The giant glow sticks! It's cool when they pulse them in time. Some ugly sounds every now and then, which hopefully they're able to mitigate, but the show is keeping my attention. I'm wondering if this will contend for a finals spot. Hard to tell given the extreme level of competition.

Very interesting concept indeed! Very impressed to see someone put the Kevin Day Euphonium Concerto on the field! 

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21 hours ago, abtwitch said:

Visually, they have some of the most striking and appealing uniforms I've ever seen and their props of the same color are like trees and move around the field with members climbing on top of them.

I like this. Seems like it would be very cute. Do you know who designs for them? I haven't seen anything from this group yet.

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8 minutes ago, Rubisco said:

I like this. Seems like it would be very cute. Do you know who designs for them? I haven't seen anything from this group yet.

Cartwright I’m pretty sure, or someone very close to that sphere of influence unless they changed over the pandemic (doubtful, as they’ve been climbing with good designs from that team).

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2 hours ago, Rubisco said:

So, uh, just saw on social media. William Mason is doing a Top Gun show. And we're not going to discuss that? ?

I'm SO excited for this. Hahaha. Cartwright can definitely do kitsch well, as Broken Arrow's cowboy show attests.

Friend!  It’s AMAZING. (Yes I’ve seen it….no I can’t share it). I’m predicting top half of GN finals for Mason. I might be wrong, but DANG it’s a good show!!

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1 hour ago, LeanderMomma said:

Friend!  It’s AMAZING. (Yes I’ve seen it….no I can’t share it). I’m predicting top half of GN finals for Mason. I might be wrong, but DANG it’s a good show!!

"The movie is a shiny homoerotic commercial."

-Pauline Kael

 

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On 9/21/2021 at 6:57 PM, Rubisco said:

So, uh, just saw on social media. William Mason is doing a Top Gun show. And we're not going to discuss that? ?

I'm SO excited for this. Hahaha. Cartwright can definitely do kitsch well, as Broken Arrow's cowboy show attests.

Hi, I’m an Ld bell alum and I’ll say that top gun was actually supposed to be our 2020 show before covid shut everything down and all. I can’t WAIT to see what they do with it, knowing mason it’ll be real good

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