Doesn't seem like anyone ever posts their opinions or critiques of shows anymore, but here goes.....
DISCLAIMER: I have been heavily involved in this event since it was originally created 12 years ago by my wife. This was the first year we were not involved in the planning, organization or operation of the event, so I watched from the perspective of a volunteer/parent for the first time. My opinions are my own, and are usually worthless, so don't get upset if you disagree with what I have to say. On to the review....
West Branch--Christopher Jive & Uptown 45. I love the creativity, telling the story of Herbert Hoover and his impact on the world. You guys clearly believe in your show and each other. Your daytime performance was one of your best ever. This is probably the best singing WB group I've heard, and you all work so hard together. At night, I thought you looked a little tired (understandable with the lateness that occurred). I'd just suggest a little cutting here and there in your show to tighten it up, and find a way to speed the set up/tear down so it can happen in 5 minutes total. If it takes more than that, it's not helping your show. Love you guys, and always look forward to seeing you, on and off stage.
Emmetsburg: So much improvement! I saw you guys in January, and to say you have worked hard to improve is a massive understatement. Mr. Teske is doing great things with you. Your confidence just keeps growing, and as it does, your performances improve. Your future is bright, and I look forward to seeing you again at your invitational. Great work at Pella, you represented yourselves very well!
Harlan: I remember seeing your group last year or the year before, and i was surprised that there were only 4 boys this year. It's tough to pull off a guy's song with only 4 boys, but I felt like the majority of your performers were giving it everything they had. Some of the songs ran a bit long, so overall, maybe the old adage of "sometimes less is more" might apply. Keep working hard, and recruiting guys to help you grow!
Des Moines Christian---this was the 3rd time I had seen your show this year, and it has come along very nicely. Your vocals on your second song and ballad are great, as is your dancing throughout. You lose my interest with the Light Shine Bright number, because it's such a stark departure from the high level of vocals/dancing you've set in the rest of the show. Your group has, over the last 3-4 years, consistently shown themselves to be a high performing, high character group that is always in play for the top spots, regardless of class. Congrats on a great showing at Dutch Masters, and I hope the girl that didn't get her skirt changed knows that she rocked that outfit on stage!
Glenwood--great kids, incredibly fun and creative show, a band that does Fortnite dances, what's not to like? You guys clearly love performing together, and you are very clean and a joy to watch. I felt your vocals faded a bit through your show, and there aren't any major vocal "wow" moments in your show after the first song. Everyone who sees your show loves it, and that's a testament to how well you do what you do. I'd just look for some chances to "wow" judges vocally, especially in your ballad and closer, with dynamics, diction, etc a focus. You may not win, but people love you and you should be very proud of your performances this season. I think at Pella you just ran out of points on the ballot, in comparison to some of the great singing the judges were hearing from other groups (and all 3 scoring judges were vocal directors).
Center Point-Urbana: One of the best CPU performances I've seen in years, both daytime and night time. It's so cool to see all your guys so passionate about performing, because you've always had good girl performers. I can tell you are trying to communicate your personalities in the story you are showing us on stage. The acapella section in your ballad was fantastic (would love even more), as was your diction and dynamic sensitivity in that. And your energy level and intensity throughout was great. Keep working hard together. Love the soloists and the high soprano in your last chord of the closer and bow is killer points for you in a vocal judge's eyes. Great work!
Mt Pleasant: Best Choreo and Best Band during the day, and .....3rd place daytime? I love how you guys fought through that weird result, and finished strong. Your daytime show had, in my opinion, the most mature sound of any group at Pella. Both day and night, you were very impressive vocally and so clean. At night, I thought your ballad really popped and stood out. You started slowly in finals (looked a bit tired in the first song, which is understandable at 11:15pm) but then you finished so strongly in the second half of your show. Excellent work all day. Congrats on your 2nd ever Dutch Masters Championship!
Benton Comm--- I love your show. The creativity, the props, the hoverboards.....you guys always have a style that I love and respect. I wondered how good you would be this year, knowing you lost a great senior class, but you guys have clearly worked hard and love to perform together. Your 2nd song was perhaps my favorite song of the day, both daytime and nightime. So well sung and danced, and you guys believe in it. Your ballad was also gorgeous on the "Home" section. I don't love the dudes singing Route 66 during the costume change, because it was a little sloppy daytime (better at night, but still not as entertaining as the rest of your show). Overall, you guys were a joy to watch perform, and you brought a huge amount of energy to the stage, both in your dancing, but also in your singing. You guys also had to fight off any negative feelings after daytime awards (Best Vocals, 2nd place in 3A) and really elevated your game at night., which shows the maturity of your group. Thank you for coming to Pella this year!
Keokuk---I saw you guys at DCG and thought "I know Keokuk can sing better than this." And then you did. Your ballad vocals were fantastic, both daytime and night. I know it was exhausting to go last in daytime and first in finals, but you couldn't tell from your performance in finals. You flat out brought the energy to the stage, and set the bar very high for all subsequent groups. My criticisms are minor---I think you should finish the show in your opener costumes, and open in your closer costumes. I also don't love the idea of "2 people sing on stage while everyone else changes", but the 2 on stage do a great job of selling it. You guys clearly love each other and love to perform at Pella. I'm glad the microphone got fixed for your ballad duet at night, as the tenor was doing some great work. Overall, Keokuk was as consistently excellent as you always are. That's a testament to your director, but also to your willingness to work hard and improve/change your show at times. Congrats to you on six straight Dutch Masters titles, which is an amazing feat!
So that's my thoughts. If I didn't review your group, I'm sorry. I had to work in the concession stand, so I missed some groups. I would have loved to see how much Anamosa has improved, or Van Meter, or the rest of you, but somebody's got to sell walking tacos and Dutch letters. It was fun to see things from an "off the stage" perspective this year, but I missed emceeing you all. I'm now booking emcee gigs for next year, so hit me up if you're looking to make your contest fun. And I promise.....no shout outs.
Work hard. Be different. Love each other. Never give up.