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!

I absolutely loved this show

Would’ve won any year other than 2014, this show was very innovative, as well as entertaining.

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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.

Best show ever

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4 Carolina Crown 2015: "Inferno"

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.

Love this show

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

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)

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.

This show was absolute gay trash. Boring as hell

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6 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)

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

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

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

Music is so well-transposed. Great use of drumline during "masquerade"

The gold standard ---- always.

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
Norfolk, VA.

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

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

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.


9 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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10 Cavaliers 2002: "Frameworks"

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)

The Contenders

11 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.

It took something old and made it new again

Cleanest percussion I've ever heard.

Pretty good not gonna lie

12 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

13 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)

14 Bluecoats 2015: "Kinetic Noise"

Most underrated and under appreciated show in DCI history

Most beautiful and coherent show with perfect execution.

15 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

16 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

17 Cadets 1987: "Appalachian Spring"
18 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.

19 Phantom Regiment 2011: "Juliet"

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!

20 Cavaliers 2004: "007"


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