Sunday 18th July saw the 2023 Music Revolution contest take place in Queensbury, West Yorkshire. Show hosts Revolution must be commended for their perseverance in making this show happen, as several factors had conspired to try and cancel the show. Taking place on Father’s Day meant there was already competition for attention, but the problems compounded when the originally booked stadium unfortunately became unavailable, the other competing bands withdrew, the weather forecast was torrential rain, and the judging panel had to be reshuffled 2 hours prior to the show due to illness – and yet still they made it happen!

Revolution had elements that drum corps fans old and new could admire. After the past few years of costumes to fit with the themes of their shows, they debuted a return to their smart green uniforms. One of the highlights of the show was reminiscent of the 2022 DCI runners-up, the Bluecoats, as they featured a young colourguard performer rocking out to an electric arrangement of Shut Up and Dance.

Photo: Emma Arnett / British Youth Band Association

The 2023 show, “Level Up!”, guides the audience through a game of Revolution’s own making. The show starts with atmospheric samples that build to a climax, before a clever “Re-vo” (in the style of the iconic “Sega” startup sound) links the drum major’s salute and the start of the show proper. Some clever visual writing sees the hornline and drumline link up through a game of Snake, before a confident battery entry leads us into Go The Distance.

Photo: Louise Gill / Revolution

We are then treated to a tasty percussion feature to Sonic’s Green Hill Zone, before some syncopated, almost cadence-like drum beats introduce Shut Up and Dance and a baritone feature. This is the second level of Revolution’s game, where they must “perform a solo with an average of 95% accuracy”. It’s clear to see this is the corps’ favourite piece as there is so much energy throughout – including a nice free-form rock out section for the chorus. As if the excitement couldn’t get any higher, some tight drum kit playing accompanies a face-melting synthesizer solo – rocked out to by the youngest guard member by far. This rock and roll duo are both new members to the corps, but have the bonus of being a father-son duo – you can tell they’ve been practicing at home!

Photo: Louise Gill / Revolution

The third “level” begins with a mysterious, almost ethereal front ensemble. Revolution also intriguingly introduced their second drum major to the start of this piece (and only for this piece), raising several questions – most notably, why now? That question was soon answered as their head drum major, Georgia Biggs, stopped conducting, turned to face the crowd, and began to sing!

Photo: Louise Gill / Revolution

Accompanied by a lovely, flowing dance section from the colourguard (later developing into some well-executed sabre work) and another tasteful drum kit groove keeping everything together, Georgia delivered a great rendition of If You Believe from The Wiz. A nice warm brass sound brings us into a middle 8 section before the whole corps (and vocals) combine for a powerful final chorus – it certainly made me believe they could complete this level!

There’s no respite for Revo, as they transition straight into intense, aggressive, almost alarm-like shock notes, as the voiceovers tell us that “it’s time to face your doom!”. There’s some nice work from a solo snare drummer before the rhythmic passage builds up across the drumline, leading us into the Time Warp and a very solid ensemble hit.

Photo: Dan & Gabs / UK Marching Band Community

A round of applause and congratulations are in order – “you have completed Level Up!” – as the field ensemble sets up a company front and a reprise of their opening Go The Distance number. Some big chords from the hornline are well matched with tasteful patches on the synthesizer and impacts on the bass drum and gong. The corps ends the show in the pit box, with their drum major holding the game’s gold crown high – they’ve done it!

Photo: Emma Arnett / British Youth Band Association

I was impressed with the improvements Revolution have made since the previous season. Although they have lost a few front ensemble members, they have more than made up for it in colourguard (which appears to have tripled in size!). The hornline has developed a warm, beautiful tone that is supported well through the use of synthesizers in the front ensemble. The drumline, too, have made big steps towards playing “as one” and gave us glimpses of some impeccable playing. But for me it is the enjoyment that comes through some clever arrangements of well-known songs that really ties everything together.

Well done Revolution and thank you for starting the season off in style!

You can watch videos from the show on our YouTube channel. The next show in the British Youth Band Association (BYBA) season is the Summer Rhythm show, which takes place at the Spencer Community Trust stadium, Northampton, on the 2nd July. Five bands will be debuting their 2023 shows!