2018 WGI Percussion/Winds World Championships - Dayton Arena

Jason's Top 10 Favorite IW WGI Percussion Shows

Jason's Top 10 Favorite IW WGI Percussion Shows

Presenting the all-inclusive, 100 percent accurate, not-up-for-debate list of the best Independent World WGI percussion shows of all time.

Apr 18, 2018 by Andy Schamma
Jason's Top 10 Favorite IW WGI Percussion Shows
By Jason Schladweiler

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By Jason Schladweiler

Presenting the all-inclusive, 100 percent accurate, not-up-for-debate list of the best Independent World WGI percussion shows of all time.

Just kidding, this list is actually quite the opposite. I’ve been attending WGI finals since 2008 and have curated a list of my personal favorite shows since that time. Every show on this list, except for one, I was fortunate enough to see at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio, on finals night.

Watch the 2018 WGI Percussion/Winds World Championships LIVE on April 19-22!
UD Arena | Nutter Center | BB&T Arena | Hobart Arena | Northmont HS

How did I choose who made the list? I used a complicated formula incorporating how well I thought the group played, how well the group moved, how well I like its show and set design, and how the show made me feel when I watched it at finals. But mostly I just picked which ones were my favorite.

Note: These are all purely my own personal opinion. WGI is art. Art is subjective. My list is subjective.

10. Pulse Percussion 2017 – The Uninvited (3rd – 96.950)

Watch here.

Usually, I am not a huge fan of shows that feature characters and an obvious storyline, but the 2017 Pulse Percussion Ensemble forced me to make an exception. Sitting in the stands during the finals performance, I forgot I was watching an indoor drumline show. It felt 100 percent like I was watching a TV show or movie, and I loved it. 

To be honest, I don’t remember anything about how well they played or moved, and I don’t care. The entire production and performance by the members were enough to land on my top 10 favorite shows of all time.

9. RCC 2009 – Totem (2nd – 96.900)

Watch here.

So many gems in this show. The quad solo at 1:00. The center snare having trouble getting his sticks in his bag at 3:10. The marimbas and vibes playing their instruments with one hand and playing a handbell with the other at 4:00. The snare drummer almost falling before the snare break at 5:45. My favorite quad solo of all time, featuring a busted drum three head, at 6:15. And finally, the infamous accidental rim shot at 6:55. 

I know many of the things I listed can be seen as negatives. However, every performer who faced adversity in this run through didn’t let it affect them and they still managed to put on one of my favorite finals performances. That’s what makes it memorable.

8. RCC 2017 – Silence of the Heavens (4th 96.675)

Watch here.

Year after year, I find myself saying, “Nobody moves like RCC, it’s not even close.” This show stood out even more than usual, and I am continually impressed by how these performers carry themselves and how the visual design team continues to be so innovative every single year. 

I am also a big fan of the show concept as a whole. It felt like a breath of fresh air after all of the prior IW shows.

7. Music City Mystique 2010 – Fantastique (3rd – 95.513)

Watch here.

Fantastique featured one of the most bizarre and unique show concepts that I have ever seen, and that’s why I love it. Everything about the show is truly original. It takes us away from the standard WGI show that we see hundreds of times a season and makes us feel like we’re in some alternate universe. 

The members, in true Mystique fashion, were especially great at performing and portraying their characters, as seen at 3:52.

6. Rhythm X 2008 – Gone (1st – 96.900)

Watch here.

This group played well, but what sets it apart for me is its show design and visual package. Even today, the show is entertaining to watch because of how well all of the elements work together. The simple concept of being able to hide performers by turning them around proved to be extremely successful for the ensemble.

Also, the 6:35 mark to the end is awesome. Please watch this show if you haven't seen it.

5. Music City Mystique 2011 – Mantra (1st – 97.050)

Watch here.

No group rivaled Music City Mystique in 2011 in terms of execution. The group played incredibly well and the show concept was entertaining. What more do you need to become an instant favorite show?

Oh, and all five quads shaved their heads. So that was cool too.

4. RCC 2012 – The Gift (1st – 97.088)

Watch here.

I liked everything about this show. Every section was great in terms of cleanliness, the show was done extremely well, and the sound design elements of the show were some of the coolest heard to date. My personal favorite moment is at 2:15, when the sound design makes the audience feel as if it was on a battlefield and a grenade has exploded, causing everything to sound muffled.

I also wouldn’t do the show justice without mentioning the snare break starting around 4:05. Aside from clarity from the snares, I loved the underlying electronic sounds throughout.

3. Rhythm X 2010 – Inspired (2nd – 96.250)

Watch here.

Rhythm X may not have been the cleanest group at WGI in 2010, but it was doing things that had never been done before. The show was entertaining from start to finish and is one that can be enjoyed by people outside of this activity, and I think that’s important. 

I had never seen a group or show with as much energy as this one. The level of difficulty in the battery book was also impressive and probably still holds up against the most difficult books of recent years.

2. RCC 2015 – Guardians of the Breath (1st – 98.563)

Watch here.

I listened to "Guardians of the Breath" from behind the curtain during WGI prelims in 2015, while marching Rhythm X, and thought to myself, “We might be in a little trouble.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the closer snare break that starts at the seven-minute mark. 

The vocals from “Life on Earth” by Adam Watts over the solo make it one of my favorite snare breaks of all time. High five to whomever from RCC thought of that.

1. Rhythm X 2009 – Touch (1st – 97.263)

Watch here.

Touch will always hold a special place in my heart. I had seen IW shows before this one, but I was new to the activity in 2008 and was in a constant state of confusion, as most freshman percussionists are. The first time I saw this show it was a mess. The progress the group made from the Indianapolis regional to finals was incredible. 

The opening full ensemble moment may be my favorite opening of any show—ever— and still gives me goosebumps like it did on finals night when I go back and watch it. 

Seeing this group perform and win the gold medal at WGI finals in 2009 played a large part in my decision to pursue a spot with the ensemble in 2014.