Top Ten DCI (Drum Corps International) ShowsThe list is based on two categories: execution and innovation, with best of both at the top of the list. Score isn't a factor, simply an illustration. Don't include shows pre-1984. They don't belong here, no offense to any who think so.
The Top Ten
Never has a theme been so thoroughly infused into a show. Never have props been used so prudently. Never has a drum major so captivated not only his ensemble but his audience. Never has a ballad reached out and touched emotion such as this. Never has the combination of music and general effect been so overpowering as to bring an entire stadium to its feet in frenzied screams of adoration. There has never been a show like Tilt, and I’m not sure there ever will be again.
Since this isn’t as of 2019 this definitely makes a close second of when this was made. Tilt has a great music selection. The brass sounds good. And the technology really gives the show a good spark.
This is one of the first shows that my High School Band director showed me. After I saw it I was addicted to Drum Corp. Now I've watched near 1,000 hours of DCI clips! I still watch this show over and over. Bluecoats have since become my favorite corp and this is my favorite show ever!
Was there ever a theme so well infused throughout a show? It was in the well-used props (definitely not just furniture to move around), in the body language, in the music...in everything! Hymn of Acxiom is also one of my favorite all-time ballads (always gets me), and that ending is just...wow!
I've been attending drum corps shows for 45+ years and I had never, nor have since (I'm writing this in 2017), experience anything like the finals performance of Spartacus. The crowd was so into the show that the standing ovation began long before the show ended and continued long after it was over. The roar of the crowd was deafening. I was seated near the top of the stadium at Indian University (it was supposed to be the first year at the Lucas Oil Stadium, but the stadium wasn't finished yet, so they moved the show to Bloomington, Indiana at the Indiana University stadium - which was also being renovated at the time) and the crowd was so loud by the time Phantom reached it's final chords, that we could barely hear the corps. The cheers from the crowd were even louder when Blue Devils were announced in second place. Finally - a true win for Phantom Regiment - a night I will never forget.
This show had the effect of popularizing DCI to its modern status. No show is so universally loved by modern fans and I would not be surprised if the DCI fan base doubled after 2008. First present the idea of the crowd willing a corps to win, as well as the ultimate DCI upset (maybe 1988, but my vote goes to '08). Score: 98 POINT 1. 2. 5. BABY!
Absolutely amazing-the presentation from beginning to end was flawless.
Just breathtaking, I was left in tears yesterday the end of the closer
Wow! Even just watching the opener, I was blown away (literally), especially by when the brass first entered. The ballad was very memorable, with a beautiful baritone duet and powerful horn snap (wow! ). The closer perfectly concluded the show with a sense of resolvement and ended with a powerful restatement of the original melody. Their props added a strong visual component to the show, shown in how they were used to visually depict "My body is a cage" in the ballad, as well as to demonstrate resolvement at the end of the closer, where all the brass players formed a wall of sound using the props to elevate their stance and further project.
I'm a huge Blue Devils fan, but this show is definitely one of my personal favorites with the trumpet solid to the insane mello runs at the end of the show. This show is one for the books
I got the experience to witness this show live in Mercedes Benz in Atlanta and for me as an aspiring tenor player it changed my life. The use of the props truly changed the show completely. This show will be the base of all shows to come and how they will elvolve into using more props and electronics throughout. This is by far my all time favorite show for so many reasons and if you take the time to read the notes on the plot of the show it makes you love it so much more.
Probably the greatest example of what a modern drum corps show can be.
As a trumpet player, I'm clearly biased towards this show (what is it, 10 trumpet solos and 2 flugelhorn? ) but even aside from that I can honestly say I'm in awe of how purely good they are! I fell in love with this show the first time I saw it and haven't stopped loving it since! Definitely the best show in DCI in my book.
Even if the finals aren't even here, this show is going in the record books, it was lost ONE single competition the visual and technical aspects are just incredible. The hornline has a sound quality WAY above crown and all others, the show is well written and that great gig in the sky just makes me melt.
Such an awesome show! So many cool things about it to mention. Miss the traditional uniforms, but understand why they went with the ones they did. Saw it live in San Antonio and streamed the finals! So pumped with their win! Still watch the show over and over!
Definitely the most High-Energy show in modern DCI. It Kept me watching intensively every second
One of the best shows I've ever had the pleasure of seeing live. Should have definitely gotten first.
This show is really a great show. I've really grown to love it. Especially the ballad.
Honestly blown away by the opener and its probably their best one yet!
This should have been the winner in the finals!
This show is the definition of flawless execution and the pinnacle of the Blue Devils' dominance. It is, in my humble opinion, the greatest DCI show to date. Its innovative qualities will be echoed in hindsight, hence I will not attempt to convey blasphemous comments toward Star '93, but there is no show in DCI history that beats this one for difficulty, execution and emotional conveyance. I admit, I am a total fan boy of this show. There was one point where I listened to it everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, for about three months. Why? The opener is ridiculous, the balled melts your heart, the jazz movement knocks your socks off, the "Be Italian" section brings a sense of authenticity (mainly, the oompa band) and the closer makes you get on your feet, cheering, jaw-dropped in response to what you just witnessed. Won every caption but Percussion (2nd), Perfect GE score and Perfect Visual score. Score: 99.65 Placement for the Year: 1st (duh)
Miles ahead of any other show in terms of production value, musical arrangement, and execution
Some people may prefer the bluecoats 2014 show: tilt, (which was also great) but in the end, the score of 99.65 means that it was flawless, and in order to understand why, you probably need to become more aware of its small details.
The facts are it earned the highest score in DCI. 99.65. In 2014! One of the best years of DCI ever.
This was the first show I saw and its been my favorite ever since
So well executed and one of the best ballads ever
Best show I have ever seen and I like the style
It was the best show and that ballad. Wow.
Another show with undisputed facts. This show had the best hornline of all-time. Plain and simple. Perfect 20 in Finals, probably deserved a 21. Design was great as well. If it wasn't for that darn percussion line, it had a shot at breaking the Cavies-Cadets record. Score: 98.3 Placement for the Year: 1st
This was the best show ever preformed. I got into watching dci in 2017. I have watched this so many times. This show may be confusing, but it is so good. I cannot wait for crown to release their 2018 show called beast!
The best technically exectuted show I have ever seen. I am in shock and awe in all of the extremly difficult 16th note passages that they make sound incredibly easy.
Only show with perfect brass!
The all-time fan favorite, a show everyone loves, and a record holder for 13 straight seasons (1989-2002). Everything was spot on. Nothing else to say. Score: 98.8 Placement for the Year: 1st
Recognizable music, Beautifully orchestrated well and very musical. I really enjoyed the "magic trick" at end wh they made a whole drum corps "disappear." And, don't forget this wa still on good old fashioned G bugles.
Jonathan Evans BAC '82, "84 Front Ensemble
Music is so well-transposed. Great use of drumline during "masquerade"
For those who saw it live, it is the standard of great shows.
Few will dispute that this is the most innovative DCI show of all time. Place this show in the current year, and it would be in the top three, no questions asked. The execution was phenomenal as well. They won Percussion and tied for Brass. Really, anyone can say what they want for 2-10, but this one is non-negotiable. Everyone bow down! Score: 97.3 Placement for the Year: 2nd (the judges should be jailed for robbery, and don't gimme that "Star was dirty on finals night" crap, I don't care)
It's not just that this show was so extraordinary, it also often partners with Madison 88 as the two greatest shows of all time in various surveys over the years, at least among those who were awake at the time. These two shows illustrate that there are different kinds of drum corps for different kinds of fans. Madison 88 stands as the ultimate popular show, and Star 93 is the ultimate artsy show.
Easily the greatest drum corps performance of all time. nothing comes close except for very few shows. A ridiculously powerful hornline and a concept so innovative and abstract for the time. I strongly believe that without this show, DCI wouldn't exist today. We all know who really won 1993. It was Star of Indiana. The cadets may have won in terms of score, but not in terms of basically everything else
This is the highest energy show that I have ever heard. Every time I think about this show's incredibly high energy closer, I get chills throughout my whole body. An absolute master piece in brass writing and percussion writing, along with the perfect marriage of drill, makes this the greatest show ever.
This show is just spectacular. The visual design elements and musical ideas elevated DCI greatly. The blueprint for Visual perfection and GE perfection (before BD '14 actually did achieve both on the score sheets). Look up "Full Shows DCI" on YouTube, a playlist with 8 videos will come up and click on the Music GE judge's tape. That will outline the greatness of this show better than I ever could. Won every caption, except percussion (3rd). Score: 99.15 Placement for the Year: 1st (duh)
Michael Gaines' best work ever. The visuals are insane and the show blows everything I've seen out of the water. Even more than BD 2014.
The music was played with flavor and personality without sounding mechanical. The Madison Scouts looked like and played like a marching band rather than a theater stage show.
This show turned the Scouts into a core to take seriously. Also, this is the loudest show I've seen live.
Epic as hell, loud as hell, and just a badass show. this show definitely deserves the number one spot!
Greatest Madison Scouts Corps ever! Great, entertaining show! Raw power!
I loved the fact that they made a show so creative and the music to go along with the show was amazing. And how about that drum break. Amazing show. Definitely deserved first place.
One of the last truly first class shows for the Cadets. I did however enjoy the 2015 show with the black cadet uniforms. Hoping they will regain their mojo this year!
It took something old and made it new again
I get chills every time I watch the closer.
Reminiscent of classic Phantom Regiment sound musically with the visual appeal of a the Blue Devils we all know and love. Their manipulation of the chairs were on point and the story of the bride and groom tugs at your hearts. Their rendition of unchained melody will have you humming all day long. I think this is one of the most underrated shows in modern DCI history. The hornline has such a clean and pure sound that you can't help but get pulled into the music. If you don't cry because of the beauty of the sound, you'll definitely cry for the drum corpse bride herself.
THE ACADEMY'S DCB" 2016, 11th Place DCI Finals Finish, in my humble opinion was nothing short of Magnificent. The story telling depiction and staging a real treat to the eyes and ears.Its Ingenious Prop Usage and Choreography was so Imaginative and entertaining, Michael Klesch's Brilliant Musical Book shines throughout the production., The spot on costumes and Corps "CLASSIC' Black uniform of Dress Coat with Tails fit the storyline perfectly. Who will ever forget the closer, a rare full rendition of "Unchained Melody," and its evocative flugelhorn solo, as it touched hearts and drained tear ducts of all emotion. The Academy has raised the bar in its ability to consistently create and carryout storylines, that for many years, particularly the last 4 years, have delighted audiences coast to coast with fan friendly Themes that THE ACADEMY and its Corps followers have come to embrace..BRAVO!
This production is most DEFINITELY the most underrated 2016 show. The only pit feature of 2016 that can rival this show's is that of Santa Clara Vanguard's closer. Amazing production, the closer left me in tears.
A great breakthrough for Drum Corps. This show showed that newer corps can come up and make there appearance at Finals. It was also just an outstanding and emotional show, well done Academy!
This was one of the first ever shows I saw live and I can’t describe how much positivity and feelings of dedication and commitment it gave me throughout my marching years,I aspire to be a player one day.
Narrative structure, great music selection, should've been a second place show
One of Crown's greatest shows ever
Best hit and horn line to date
Most underrated yet amazing. The musical technicality alongside the amazing soloists adds so much to this great show.
Most underrated and under appreciated show in DCI history
Most beautiful and coherent show with perfect execution.
The epitome of a fun drill show. Very creative and captivating. Loved the music that goes along with the visuals. One of Michael Gaines best drill designs.
The Cavies were in the early 2000s till 2011 absolutely stunning. Not a single Show that I would consider „ boring“. Made me being a Cavies fan. Still hoping for them to get back to were they’re have once been: At the very Top! Leading the pack.
No probs or narrating, simply nothing. Instead the most unique concept and drill that DCI has ever witnessed. That show deserves a top 10 placement. It's the epitome of perfect design.
One of the most iconic shows of all time. !
Lots of new ideas and piccolo trumpets.
This is one of those shows with nonnegotiable qualities. The best drill in DCI's storied history, cross to cross, 'enough said. Best Mellophone line in DCI history. If you disagree with those two statements, you haven't seen the show. Established Star of Indiana as THE corps of the early-90's. Score: 97.0 Placement for the Year: 1st
Unarguably should be the best show of all time. If Star was still around BD would have nothing on them
This was easily the best show of all time. It's a shame that they folded.
Appearing and disappearing crosses best closer ever
My favorite show of all time Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral gives me chills every time without fail. Listen to this at least once a day!
The most musically sound show that Regiment ever did, or any drum corps for that matter. In my opinion, the greatest closer of all time!
Had a resemblance to 2015 Crown but it was even better. The trombones were a huge part of bringing this show to life. I absolutely loved there opener, ballad, and closer. The trombones rocked!
Personally, this show was designed perfectly and was played so beautifully, one of my all-time favorites. (I also got to do that Vanguard yell at finals so I was super happy)
Hey, I got to do the vanguard yell at finals too, it was so good
This to me is the show that spawned modern show design. It signaled the end of shows with shallow design's opportunity to grab gold. Design layers must deep and intimate, questions left unanswered. Open for debate. No show before it was anything like it, and few have been since. The only show in DCI history to win every single caption, and handily in most. Score: 99.15 Placement for the Year: 1st (duh)
Best drill I've ever seen, Unmatched. Check it out on youtube. Number 1 in my book for classic drum corps buffs and new.
I fanboy about this one, too. Truly a show where pre-viewing research is a pre-requisite. All about the Dada art movement of the early 20th Century, this show added so much to DCI in terms of how shows are designed. The layering is truly breathtaking. Not only did it set out to convey innovative art of the past, but it also tried to be viewed as innovative art in the present. Won every caption, except Brass, which they lost by a tenth of a point. Score: 98.7