Monday, April 18, 2011

The 5 Greatest Phantom Regiment Shows of All Time

Phantom Regiment has finished the last two seasons with uncharacteristically low scores and placements at finals (9th place in 2009, and 6th place last season). Over the last decade they have finished in the top 5 seven times & finishing in the top five 14 times in the last two decades. Of those 14 finishes they have won 7 medals, two of them gold.

While Phantom Regiment does not always medal, they have been a perrenial powerhouse - finishing in the top ten drum and bugle corps every year since 1975 (that is 35 times and counting). It would be easy to simply find Phantom Regiment's top 5 highest scores in competition - so I did that.

Taking the field in all Phantom Regiment finals competition, from Rockford - Love's Park Illinois... PHANTOM REGIMENT!!!

The All-Phantom Regiment Drum Corps International Finals Competition Placement: 

  1. 98.4 - A New World Symphony (2nd Place 1989)
  2. 98.125 - SPARTACUS (1st Place 2008)
  3. 97.40 - A Defiant Heart: the Music of Dmitri Shostakovich (1st Place 1996)
  4. 96.85 - Faust (2nd Place 2006)
  5. 96.825 - Rhapsody (3rd Place 2005)
  6. 96.2 - Songs for a Summer Night (3rd Place 1994)
  7. 96.2 - The Modern Imagination (3rd Place 1993)
  8. 95.6 - Scythian Suite - Armenian Dances - Trypitch - 1812 Overture (4th Place 1984)
  9. 95.4 - Phantom Voices (3rd Place 1991)
  10. 95.3 - Dreams of Desire (4th Place 1990)
  11. 94.85 - On Air (4th Place 2007)
  12. 94.75 - Harmonic Journey (4th Place 2003)
Certainly I, as are you, am tickled at the idea of an all Phantom Regiment competition. As of right now, based on scores alone, those would be the top twelve Phantom Regiment shows of all time. Eight of these shows won medals, and A New World Symphony - number one on this list - lost to Santa Clara Vanguard's, almost ironically titled, Phantom of the Opera (regarded by many as one of the greatest drum corp shows of all time).

As many DCI fans will point out, myself included, a high scoring show does not necessarily make it better than another show (I am looking at you Blue Devils). I went ahead and picked out my favorite Phantom Regiment shows of all time.. starting with:

5. On Air - 2007

On Air was pretty much Phantom as usual, loud and exciting. There was that tasty flugel duet and of course one of Phantom Regiment's staples: the finale from Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. Oh yeah, while jazz running. Was it necessary? Of course it wasn't, it was flippin' badass though. It was truly a memorable performance from the corp.

4. A Defiant Heart - 1996

Who doesn't love it when Phantom Regiment defies the traditional white uniforms in favor of the black ones? Even though they shared the gold medal that year, they earned it. My favorite part is torwards the middle of the show the hornline nails a passage that features a mellophone run that is so incredibly insane that merely thinking about the beautiful shrill tone of the that mello line still gives me chills and makes my mouth hang open.

3. Faust - 2006

Biebel's Ave Maria is the most over looked Ave Maria in the history of Ave Marias. Phantom Regiment is the whole reason I know about Biebel's Ave Maria, and the whole reason why Biebel's Ave Maria is my favorite. Next time they should make the WHOLE hornline play baritones and euphoniums though. Phantom created a moment on the field with Ave Maria that I will remember to the day I die. To this day it remains the most beautiful thing I have ever seen accomplished on a football field.

2. SPARTACUS - 2008

Phantom Regiment took a page out of Carolina Crown's book "How to connect with your audience," and performed one of their shows from the early 1980s - taking it to heights it had never seen before. The entire show was a roller coaster of emotion and energy leading up to, perhaps, the most memorable climax of a drum corp show to date. I wonder how long it will take for Phantom to dust off Spartacus again - while is would be nice to see them do something new - I also hope we don't have to wait almost thirty years to watch them perform SPARTACUS again. Just sayin.

1. Harmonic Journey - 2003

Harmonic Journey was the first drum corp show I was ever exposed to. It was my first window into the world of drum corps and Phantom Regiment. It changed the way I listen to music to forever. It just feels like it's the perfect drum corp show. It just seems to have everything, the perfect theme a great balance of temponic and dynamic contrast and of course Phantom Regiment's hornline delivers a literally unforgettable performance. That part where they make the wedge towards the end blows me away every time.

Sometimes I wonder how I would judge DCI performances if the first show I had watched had been the Cavaliers "Machine" show. Probably much differently. Phantom Regiment does one thing well, and that is marching music. They are the reason I love DCI and I am thankful for this.