A weekly review of B1G Marching Bands and related topics.
You get a hype video!... You get a hype video!... Everybody gets a hype video!
This week, I’m going to take the opportunity to lovingly call out a recent development in our conference that is maybe going just a bit too far. Just about everybody in the conference now has a new, sexy big HD video screen that we all wish we could connect our favorite game console to (I’m doing Atari 2600 all day - Frogger, baby). Most of us have also gotten used to years of hype videos for the football team coming out of the stadium. It’s the same formula each and every time... slow start, deep meaning of the school / program / city / state, athletes working hard in practice, music starts to crescendo, flashback to former greats, highlights of the current players as the music explodes, then close on whatever recent trophy said football team won (if they won a trophy... could be Bowl game, or conference title, or whatever). It’s understandable... a bunch of large, fast dudes are about to spend the next 3-3.5 hours beating the crap out of each other, and you might want to get the adrenaline flowing before taking that on for the day.
However, several of our programs are starting to take things even a bit further, and now we’re starting to see hype videos creep into the introduction of Marching Bands at the beginning of the game. What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Well, basically every Band’s pregame is already a hype performance. You’ve got 150-300+ people running out of some form of a tunnel onto the field with drums blazing, blasting their fight song at the top of their lungs, and doing a high step like their life depended on it. Does anybody really need to get the crowd psyched up before that? Hell, in most places, has the crowd even shown up, yet, or are they still getting their last couple of drinks in at the tailgate (no need to answer Wisconsin students... we know you won’t roll in until the second half)?
So, let’s go through a few examples this year of what is out there. On the “OK, this is fine” scale, I would go with somebody like Michigan State from this year (2016 and 2015 were hilarious, but we’ll get to some of that later). Give an introduction of your band, highlight some of the neat traditions you bring to the field, but don’t overdo it... no techno music... no sounds of war... no strobe effects... just give a flavor of the Spartan Band before they take the field. This is nice... this is a good setup for what is going to follow.
OK, let’s next go to my alma mater, Northwestern. Believe it or not, this is probably better than last year’s video in several ways, but here you start getting elements of stuff that is just silly. Strobe effects... check. Loud, distorted Led Zeppelin music... check. Sound effects that could reasonably find a home in a dubstep mix... check. I mean, yay band, but I swear I never felt like Led Zeppelin taking the stage coming out for a pregame. It’s... well... it’s a bit much. There is still a tarp out there, after all.
Now for what is probably this year’s winner (at least from what I can see online). Just take a second and think about this video that you are about to see, juxtaposed versus a Memorial Stadium right before the Rutgers game that probably includes Thumpasaurus and just about nobody else. All I can think of when I see this thing is should I go see it in IMAX, or should I wait until it comes out on Netflix? We don’t even get an image of the Band itself until about a dozen seconds in. It’s Marching Band, people... not the next Star Wars movie!
Finally, we’ll end with one of my favorites from prior years, which is Sparty’s 2015 entrance. Leonidas and the 300 didn’t go off to war with this much fanfare. This is so over-stated, that I don’t even think that they got to this level in the movie “300”! We’ve got nasty, dirty sound effects. We’ve got people snapping on their war gear (hats). We’ve got spinning sousaphones. We’ve got tough-looking drum majors. We’ve got screaming drum line (the screaming is probably what put it over the top for me). And, we’ve got this odd waving saxophone for a split second that... just... doesn’t look right for some reason. TOO MUCH!!! You can’t follow that up with Victory for MSU and still look bad ass. Let your pregame do the talking for you! Very wise to have toned things down like you did for 2017.
Band Hype Videos?
This poll is closed
Too much - just play
Awesome for my school - terrible for yours
Woo! I like excitement! Sparty Band going to do battle!
Maybe it would be fun to have an actual band fight...
I’m a Wisconsin student - No need to ask me about something before Jump Around
We’re not quite yet fully caught up to this week with Wisconsin, but we did get video posted for their Oct. 14th show versus Purdue where they played a number of tunes from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The most successful parts of the show were probably toward the beginning with some good hits on “Sgt. Pepper” and “With a Little Help from my Friends”. I didn’t quite care for the beginning of “A Day in the Life” where it needed a bit more of a subtle melody toward the beginning and I don’t think the attempt to mix in the symphonic ascending crescendo toward the middle was successful. However, I have to admit that the hit for the second half of the song sounded pretty good (albeit that might be because of what appears to be some sort of shift in the microphone at that point where you seem to get a higher mix of trumpets). Drill seems to be more active than in prior shows, but if I ever see the Badgers do a curve, I might just faint. On a side note, I have always hated “When I’m 64”... it is the most useless piece of musical drivel that McCartney ever wrote into that otherwise fantastic album. In it’s place I would have loved to see a band attempt “Good Morning”, but Wisconsin obviously doesn’t have the saxophones to carry that wonderful sax line throughout the tune. Overall, nice job for one of the great all-time albums.
Again, Wisconsin played a show this week versus Maryland, but it hasn’t shown up, yet. We’ll review if and when it does.
Similar to Wisconsin, we had some updated video posted for last week as it relates to the Marching Illini, which includes a reprisal of their “Pirates of the Caribbean” show that they performed in what I believe was the first or second week, only they tacked on another couple of minutes of music and drill before going into their traditional Three-in-One. I really liked the intro when they first performed it, and of course the drill and music remained outstanding this second time around, but the first show was at night which I think really added to the ambiance and effect of what they were doing with the drill. This one didn’t quite have the same visual effect, if only for that reason. The second half that the Illini added once again showed some really good movement around the field and their sound and look continues to remain very clean. This is a really a good job by the Illini - I’ve been very impressed by their overall level of quality sustained over several shows.
One more update was posted for Oct. 14th - Indiana’s performance for the the game against Michigan. In addition to eventual alumni band festivities, Indiana chose to perform a show that included music from Rocky, “Free Ride”, and various Elvis tunes (at least “Viva Las Vegas” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic”... not sure if I missed something else in there). Most of the show featured solo trumpet work from Indiana music professor Joey Tartell plus one student solo, both of whom did an excellent job. Musicianship seemed very good throughout - Indiana trumpets almost always sound great. Drill was simple and the second piece was a dance n’ bark feature, but there were still some nice moments (some of the pinwheels were visually effective and the two crossing Diamonds at the top of the field looked good). Following the normal show, you got a parked “Sing, Sing, Sing” with the alumni (one of Indiana’s pre-game and traditional tunes).
Indiana remains on a format that I cannot embed, but a link to the show site is found here. Just select “10-14-17 vs. Michigan - Halftime” from the playlist.
This week was Minnesota’s homecoming show, so they kept things fairly simple playing with an alumni band and doing a jazz / big band show. They started with “When the Saints Come Marching In”, transitioned to “In the Mood”, and finished the pre-homecoming festivities with “A Night in Tunisia”. Saints was mostly dance n’ bark with a few minor pinwheels and other simple little maneuvers that were pretty much a variation on standing still. “In the Mood” featured only one significant drill maneuver, but it was certainly a crowd-pleaser with the collapse into a circle and subsequent re-expansion. We got a bit more drill in the “finale”, but it was still a simple, simple program. Musicianship had its moments particularly in the first two tunes, but there didn’t feel like there were enough melody moments to offset the brass, so it kind of sounded a bit monotone at points. Still, a fun show and the crowd definitely liked the circles maneuver.
For those who can’t see the embedded video below, you can go to this link to see the show.
Similar to Minnesota, this was Rutgers’ homecoming, so their show was a bit disjointed, starting with a lot of park n’ bark for traditional tunes with the alumni band, followed by a reprise of the Rolling Stones Paint it Black drill that they had done earlier this year, followed by more park n’ bark with high school bands for “We are Family”. Obviously, a simple show outside of their one drill piece (which was very good before and was again very good in this instance, albeit much shorter than when they combined it with AC/DC and Led Zeppelin hits). Rutgers has been an extremely clean sounding band throughout the year, and this show was no exception.
For the Michigan Game, Penn State did a show based upon TV themes, including everything from Wonder Woman to Family Feud to Cheers. The show included a cute little jeopardy segment on the video boards to break things up (albeit, you can’t see it on this video). A nice, solid performance by the Blue Band... nothing too complicated drill wise, but entertaining throughout and some really good sound. I do have to say, though, that I thought it was extremely rude making fun of Jim Harbaugh at the beginning of that show like you did...
From seeing it first-hand, I know that Northwestern did a repeat of their West Side Story show, which really was a good performance, but I was surprised to see it again two weeks after they had last performed it in lieu of a new show. Unfortunately, neither video for this performance nor the last one has been posted, yet. I know that MSU did a Disney show, but no video has been posted. The Ohio State Marching Band was in action as well, but in Buffalo New York for the Bills game. I would have posted their performance here, but it is a repeat of the New York show that they did earlier in the season (week two or week three... I can’t recall). Although these Bands weren’t in action this week, we’re also still missing video for previous shows by Nebraska, Maryland, Purdue, and Iowa. As mentioned above, we’re about a week behind on Wisconsin’s shows.
Wisconsin got by with a little help from its friends, Illinois walked a slightly longer plank, Indiana blew their trumpet, Minnesota collapsed into a B1G Band singularity, Rutgers did homecoming, and Penn State somehow avoided White Noise on their TV screen despite the White Out. A few others were either out of action or have not yet posted video.
Now, back to the video screens. You can’t possibly tell me that you wouldn’t want to see this on Jerryworld’s Godzillatron...