Top Ten DCI (Drum Corps International) Shows

The 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

1 Bluecoats 2014: Tilt

This show was so unique and so well done. Still watch it over and over! Go Bloo!

My old high school visual instructor marched in this show, Amazing and well done show!

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 everything! Hymn of Acxiom is also one of my favorite all-time ballads (always gets me), and that ending is!

That ballad...

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2 Phantom Regiment 2008: "Spartacus"

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!

Just breathtaking, I was left in tears yesterday the end of the closer

Absolutely amazing-the presentation from beginning to end was flawless.

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3 Bluecoats 2016 : "Downside up"

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.

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!

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.

The opening grooves though... - Ender_

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4 Carolina Crown 2015: "Inferno"

One of the best shows I've ever had the pleasure of seeing live. Should have definitely gotten first.

This should have been the winner in the finals!

This show is really a great show. I've really grown to love it. Especially the ballad.

So cleann. So smoothhh. So goodd. So 1st place worthyyy

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5 Blue Devils 2014: "Felliniesque"

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)

This show was absolute gay trash. Boring as hell

Miles ahead of any other show in terms of production value, musical arrangement, and execution

The facts are it earned the highest score in DCI. 99.65. In 2014! One of the best years of DCI ever.

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6 Santa Clara Vanguard 1989: "Phantom of the Opera"

For those who saw it live, it is the standard of great shows.

The music was gorgeous and left chills

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

The gold standard ---- always.

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7 Star of Indiana 1993: "The Music of Barber and Bartok"

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.

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.

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

8 Carolina Crown 2013: "E=MC^2"

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!

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

Only show with perfect brass! - Ender_

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.

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9 Cavaliers 2002: "Frameworks"

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.

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)

10 Cadets 2011: "Between Angels and Demons"

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

Stunning to watch.

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The Contenders

11 Santa Clara Vanguard 2018 — Babylon

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.

The best show ever performed

12 The Academy 2016: "Drum Corpse Bride"

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!

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!

Just one hell of a show. Something is clearly stirring down in Arizona and the Academy will be on the rise, mark my words.

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13 Madison Scouts 1988: "Malaguena"

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.

Greatest Madison Scouts Corps ever! Great, entertaining show! Raw power!

14 Blue Devils 2017: "Metamorph"

One of the best drills I've ever seen

So well executed and one of the best ballads ever

My favorite show


15 Carolina Crown - Relentless 2016

Narrative structure, great music selection, should've been a second place show

One of Crown's greatest shows ever

Best Music Without A Doubt

I love the show

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16 Bluecoats 2015: "Kinetic Noise"

Most underrated and under appreciated show in DCI history

Most beautiful and coherent show with perfect execution.

17 Star of Indiana 1991: "Immaggini di Roma (Roman Images):The Music of Ottorino Respighi"

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

This was easily the best show of all time. It's a shame that they folded.

Appearing and disappearing crosses best closer ever

Unarguably should be the best show of all time. If Star was still around BD would have nothing on them - SomePeopleHaveRealProblems

18 Cadets 1987: "Appalachian Spring"

Best drill I've ever seen, Unmatched. Check it out on youtube. Number 1 in my book for classic drum corps buffs and new.

19 Cadets 2005: "The Zone: Dreamscapes in Four Parts with a Door"

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)

20 Blue Devils 2012: "Cabaret Voltaire"

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

21 Cavaliers 2006: "The Machine"

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.

Lots of new ideas and piccolo trumpets.

22 Phantom Regiment 2011: "Juliet"

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!

23 Cavaliers 2004: "007"

Amazing show, one of the top 10


24 Cadets 2000: "We Are The Future"
25 Santa Clara Vanguard: "Force of Nature"

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

26 Carolina Crown 2012: "For the Common Good"

The actual show idea may not be the best, but when you look at what they're doing, nobody could do it better. Possibly most difficult show in history, and performed the best.

27 Carolina Crown 2018: "Beast"

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!

28 Santa Clara Vanguard 2015: "The Spark of Invention"

People say Crown should have won 2015. THIS is what should've won 2015

29 Bluecoats 2010: "Metropolis: The Future Is Now"
30 Santa. Lara Vanguard 2013: "Les Misérables"

While this concept has been done by other groups, and definitely will in the future, this rendition of "bring him home" and "one day more" brought me to tears when I first heard it and that is very difficult to do. One of the cleanest horn lines I have ever heard.

Loved this show.

31 Blue Devils 2009: "1930"

There isn't enough shows like this with this quality of music

32 Blue Devils 2010: "Through a Glass Darkly"
33 Cavaliers 2016: "Propaganda"

One of the best DCI closers of all time

34 Carolina Crown 2014: "Out of This World"

Great show, horn line leaves you in chills. Although lines don't hit all of the time this show is beautiful.

35 Bluecoats 2011: "A Brave New World"

I can personally say that the opener, "Creep" blew me away.

36 Santa Clara Vanguard 2017: "Ouroboros"
37 Boston Crusaders 2017: Wicked Games
38 Cadets 1998: Stonehenge

One of the finest examples of the "Run and Gun" style that originally helped define the corps back in the 80's, it's also one of the cleanest, garnering a perfect field visual score at finals -- and they are really moving, folks. The show features creative, high velocity drill moves and an incredible guard. Also has one of the most surprising music books -- lots of unexpected shifts in dynamics and tempo -- and an absolutely killer mello line.

39 Santa Clara Vanguard 2009: "Ballet for Martha"
40 Cavaliers 2010: "Mad World"

Excellent pre-show

41 The Cavaliers 2011: "XtraordinarY"

Although this is not MY personal favorite show, I still believe it deserves a place in the top 10. The sheer amount of volume the brass put out that year, plus the amazing drill make this show hard to not consider. The drum break with the "planking" bass drums, upside down tenors, and THE pit splits. Definitely has never been done before and caused quite the fan reaction as well!

42 Blue Devils 2003: "The Phenomenon Of Cool"

This show is INSANE! By far my favorite BD show and perc feature of all time!

43 Carolina Crown 2016: "Relentless"
44 Santa Clara Vanguard 2013: "Les Miserables"
45 Carolina Crown 2008: "Finis"

Best One In my opinion, very musical and really amazing drill.

46 Blue Devils 2015 "Ink"
47 Blue Devils 2004: "The SummerTrain Blues MIX"

This one may come as a surprise to many. Well, they won almost every caption in 2004, but the Cavies were so close that the few they won put them over by.175. The Brass was just ridiculous. Received a perfect score in semis. Score: 98.525 Placement for the Year: 2nd

48 Blue Devils 2013: "The Re:Rrite of Spring"
49 Blue Devils 1996: "Club Blue: A Gangster Chronicle"

Best music. CLEAN, EXCITING (every time), COLORFUL (sound and visuals)

50 The Academy 2014: "Vanity Fair"
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