As we've progressed through this new, uncharted virtual season WGI has been released weekly videos compiling the Top 10 most viewed from competition in each category: Color Guard, Percussion, Winds. Every week, on Monday, we will be going through those videos and having thoughts, opinions, and remarks about how the activity is doing and our favorites of the week. I'll preface this with: This will not be a negative place. I'm not looking to stir up drama or "spill tea". Every group who is capable and willing to put on a show in these circumstances deserves support and respect. With that said, this won't be a traditional overall review since unfortunately the full videos are not available publicly. So I will be just talking about what can be seen by everyone. Also, unfortunately Facebook will not allow me to embed the recap video so it will be available as a link here. Ok enough caveats.
Weekly Recap: Top 10 Most Watched Winds Performances from Week 3
#10: Daviess County HS - "Birds of a Feather"
I've seen a lot of floors in my day. I've seen a lot of deeply successful floors and a lot of deeply unsuccessful floors. I've produced both. The floor design for Daviess County's show this year is what I would call a deeply successful floor. Utilizing a large scale, wash out, close up of a feathers provides a striking and visually appealing texture to the program that is both modern in it's visual aesthetic and programatic in its intention. On first glance, the image looks like just a beautiful line art texturing but as you go in further and the feather detailing is revealed, it is that kind of visual payoff that I am 100% here for.
The costuming as well is something that pulls my eye in. The gentle blend of the grey costuming with the grey floor, accented with pops of purple leading into the purple bell covers. I was wondering how this idea of needing to include bell covers the year would factor into the show design and, to be honest, I figured everyone would just do black. The use of the purple here though allows the color story to be brought throughout the visual design. Kudos there.
I wish I could talk about the music but unfortunately the WGI recap video doesn't include the original music and I want to make sure whatever I am talking about can be seen by everyone.
#9: Cary HS - "Words"
I'll be honest with you, when I first saw the title of this show I was nervous. We've all had that experience when you go to your local show and a group comes out with a floor covered in words and a vague title and lo and behold, it's a show about hate crimes. So when I saw the title and the floor here my spidey senses started tingling and I got ready for whatever was going to happen.
To my surprise, this is genuinely a show about words. Lots of words. Words absolutely every. And from what we can see on the recap video, any words here will do. It just looks fun. And the kids performing in it seem to be having fun as well performing a dance break number with the entire horn line on the 50. I'm excited to see, as the season continues, how this show can develop and evolve because I want it to keep doing well. I need something not entirely too serious or heavy in my life. And band is fun.
#8: Greenwood HS - "Mirror Mirror"
This particular review is going to take a different turn. I reloaded the video over and over on Facebook (again, the one we can all see without the paywall) and sure enough, blurry. I'm going to go ahead and assume this wasn't a stylistic choice and that Greenwood didn't send WGI a blurry video on purpose. And given the fact that we all have 4k video in our pockets, I feel it's safe to assume the video was recorded in high quality. So why is this video coming through like a digitized version of a WWII news reel?
Here's my hot take. Someone on the receiving end of this video didn't do their due diligence to make sure the video was downloaded correctly. I could be wrong here but it seems like a failure somewhere along the chain to make sure the unit was being represented to the best of their ability. Which is an absolutely shame because from what I can tell, the production value is there. The staff and support team but in the time and energy to give the performers a great product and we can't even tell what is happening here. I hope WGI takes steps as we move forward to make sure all video submissions are given a chance to re-upload if this happens again.
#7: Kent City HS - "Outdoor Serenade"
I love talking about floor design and can and have talked about it all day and this one is no exception. The marbled oil texture on the cracked soil bring in a texture that, frankly, may have been done before but the quality of the print really brings this to life. And the sheen of the lights on the floor add another level to the overall design of the image.
From the short clip we are given, the rest of the show seems simple with a purple top and black leggings, but I don't mind that at all because, at the end of the day, it is effective. The designers had a solid concept for the floor and allowed it to shine through without being overmatched with costuming and design. Something we have seen time and time again is an incredible floor but with busy costumes or really intricate and beautiful costuming but the floor design is distracting. What I feel Kent City did well is played to its strength and didn't try to oversell us with being too much.
#6: Whitko Jr./Sr. HS - "Echoes"
Another prime example of playing to your strengths. With no floor and no discernible programatic costuming to speak of, Whitko knew they needed to find something to do well and they absolutely did. Engaging and varied drill shines through as a major positive here. Anyone who has performed what we olds call "drill" can see this and know that what is being attempted here isn't easy. Multi-speed circle follow the leader with directional responsibilities and fully thought out velocity changes? That's not easy and Whitko's attempt at it was solid.
Unfortunately, as I talked about in my "Will Marching Band Ever Be The Same?" post, I talked about this disparity between programs with the financial capability to have the level of production value we seem to require these days and those who do not. The appreciation from an audience standpoint just isn't there anymore for this type of "old school" drill. I hope the absolute best for this program though and I hope people can appreciate the intricate level of difficulty Whitko manages to bring.
#5: North Hardin HS - "Abstractions on a Blue Moon"
I have always been and will always be a fierce advocate for using front drops in indoor performances. My JV staff can attest to this. And North Hardin is going to be my living example as to why. Front drops allow a performance to move and change and adapt in real time without the awkwardness of having to manipulate large scale props. Performers can disappear and the stage can change effortlessly. And the bright, multicolored design of the front drop reveal on the white floor is just another excellent example of using contrast to highlight design.
The stark white of the floor provides a brilliant background for the color theory being played with in this visual package. It's a wonderful example of a clean concept being executed well. And, at the end of the day, that's all we want right? Does it have to make sense? Not really. Does the title have to inform us? Nope. It's a color theory exercise. And bravo to them because I'm sold.
#4: Avon HS - "Canzon Quarti Toni"
I'll keep this short because the public can't hear the music and this is, for all intents and purposes, a concert video. Avon's music is legendary, that can't be overstated. And I completely 100% understand why this would be #4 on this Top 10 list. What a great opportunity for students outside of Indiana to just sit and listen to what Avon brings to the table off the field. What I do think this highlights though is: Is it time to bring to Winds a Concert class like what is available in percussion? Certainly seems like it.
#3: Keller Central HS - "The Stone"
Ok choreo, I see you. Keller definitely saw this opportunity and ran with it. The production value of "The Stone" is obviously there. Large scale props, beautifully thematic flooring and costuming, and raised platforms. On top of that this 48 (?) member unit manages to maneuver around these while creating and utilizing negative space on the floor. I've been at this for a while and let me tell you, the larger the unit the harder this can be to do and they seemed to pull it off.
And additionally, in the clip we were given, they also employ a varied movement vocabulary exploring the vertical in both directions, further demonstrating an understand of the high and low space. In other words, One group goes up to be focused on, and then another group goes down to be focused on. Coordination and range. Excellent.
#2: Miamisburg HS - "Wired"
This program's indoor resume is legendary. Their winter guard has been a world class finalist more times than another other unit and they keep going strong. It comes as no surprise then that they would land in second on this top 10 list. I would (and did) look them up just to see what they bring to the stage. And they didn't disappoint.
The visual interest certainly is there. The movement of the design of the floor allowing for drill opportunities, the bring costuming that fades into the black of the floor, the use of space in their staging. I'm sold. And with a few weeks left in this competitive season, I am excited to see where Miamisburg takes this show. Knowing what kind a program this is and seeing what they can do, they will use that time effectively and efficiently and use the program they have to end the season strong.
#1: Father Ryan HS - "Digital Daybreak 1986"
When I saw Father Ryan on this list, I knew we were going to get something special. Never in my life would I have told you it would be quite like this. There is so much at play here. Unexpected color contrasts, forced perspective, complex staging, helmets. The list goes on. This is a feast for the eyes in the kind of way I am totally on board for. It is somehow both simple and complicated. Familiar and yet bizarre. It transports you.
The more you look at the set the more it reveals itself to you. This is a design team that had a clear vision and then had fun executing it. And you can tell in the choices that were made. Nothing about it is safe and yet everything about it is the correct choice. And choices we didn't know we needed until we were shown it.
First of all, thank you to every unit who participated in this week's competitive season. Across the country, we appreciate your dedication to the art and just hope you are doing everything within your power to stay as safe as possible.
My key take away this week is this: If you are uploading a video to be used make sure the formatting of the upload is correct. If you are on the other end, make sure you test the video and it is registering in the quality that you would expect. It does the unit a disservice to allow a video to be shown when it isn't the quality of recording that it is expected to be.
Other than that, amazing work this week and we will see you next Monday for a new recap!