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Off Beat Empire: Powering Through

I really hate the dentist

Man With Toothache Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

It’s late, I’m naturally grumpy, I have a bad tooth ache (probably gonna need a root canal on this one... I’ve seen the dentist three times and the SOB couldn’t make up his mind what he wanted to do about a bad cavity and now I’m suffering), and I’ve got this column to write. I would love nothing more right now than to pull a Thump MS Paint maneuver and re-publish one of my greatest hits, but unlike Thump, I don’t have a brilliant history of material to fall back on and the bands keep on playing, so I kinda feel obligated to at least post their shows. Anyway, apologies for a brief column this week, but I’m going to jump right into the halftime shows. Also, a programming note... I’m on vacation next week so no column from me. That said, if anybody else wants to take over for a week (and believe me, I welcome any and all contributors), let MNWildcat or LincolnParkWildcat know and I’m sure they would help you post or front-page something.


Best Non-Dentist Way to Fix a Tooth Ache

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    Alcohol - the source of, and solution to all of life’s problems
    (69 votes)
  • 15%
    Get the pliers. The dentist can work on the aftermath
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    That’s cute. I remember when I still had real teeth (covers all of the aged, meth addicts, and hockey players)
    (4 votes)
  • 32%
    I have perfect teeth and all I’ve ever received from the Dentist is compliments (I hate you)
    (45 votes)
139 votes total Vote Now


We had video this week on Michigan, MSU, PSU, Minnesota, OSU, Rutgers and Rutgers.

Win: Ohio State One Giant Leap (Oct. 5th)

The Best Damn Band in the Land finally gets the “coveted” (by all dozen of my readers) top spot in GTom’s ranking this week with a series of tunes celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Music included a variation of Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”, Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter”, John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”, and a couple of other tunes that I couldn’t quite get the origin of (maybe from the most recent Neil Armstrong movie?). Aside from the music sounding very clear and having some really nice contrast between different sections, what sets this apart is from the other shows is some really sharp drill that includes very crowd-pleasing figure moments in addition to great little geometric mesh drill moments, like the opening triangles and the running sequence around 5:35 in the video. I believe it was Purdue that had a similar flag-planting moment earlier this season, but that looked really sharp, as well as the space-walk. I do question the musical choice to speed up “Fanfare for a Common Man” into a piece with driving percussion, but OSU isn’t the only band to have done so (we did something similar in NUMB when I was part of the group). I know everybody thinks that it is going to be boring and slow, but I would really love to see a top-notch group dare to try and pull it off as Copland composed it. I’m glad the band brought out the piccolos for Stars and Stripes (you need them... you just do) and the fireworks were a nice touch. A very good and entertaining show.

Honorable Mention: Everybody else

A lot of the other bands in action had shortened performances in order to be joined by the Alumni, with two exceptions in MSU (who had a shortened show on the road) and Rutgers. There was a lot that I liked within the various shows, and I toyed at times with maybe elevating a few of them in my analysis, but MSU’s was a partial repeat, and the others just didn’t quite feel like they had enough impact to really set them apart from the field. Anyway, a lot of them were still good and had some entertaining moments, so I encourage you to check them out.

Michigan State Take Flight (Oct. 5th)

If you absolutely forced me to pick a second place this week, this would probably be it, but at least two of the pieces were a repeat from a show earlier in the year. Basically, this is a number of tunes that have flight in their name, including Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away”, “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, and the “Firebird Suite” by Igor Stravinsky. I think the Wicked piece was new to the lineup and they cut out an Eagles song and I think Elton John’s Rocket Man from earlier in the year. Still, it sounds absolutely great - better than I remember the version from earlier this year - and closing with Firebird Suite is always a solid move as a marching band.

Rutgers All-American Show (Oct. 5th)

Rutgers performed a series of tunes in honor of Paul Robeson, Alex Kroll, and Marco Battaglia, three of the school’s consensus All-Americans throughout the program history. Honestly, I had a hard time understanding which tunes were being played, but it sounds like they were mostly contemporary numbers plus “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross. The music had some nice sound throughout and the drill started strong, but kind of petered to a park n’ bark for Marco. It was a solid show, but didn’t quite have the big, crowd-pleasing moments to set it apart from others.

Alumni Everywhere!

Michigan American Time Capsule (Oct. 5th)

The announcer tried some really convoluted logic to bring the theme together under various anniversaries, but the truth is that the vast bulk of this show is just television theme songs. Michigan sounds great in most of these pieces, but because they were mostly just playing short themes, it didn’t quite have the same level of musical development that they have demonstrated in other shows. Still, the prohibition themes demonstrated in drill (and crowd reaction) were great and there some really good TV character shapes. The music was mostly cohesive, but they really fell apart for a portion of Family Guy. Folks really seemed to like Sponge Bob Square Pants as well (Sponge Bob is after my time and too old for my nieces - I just don’t get it). The alumni joined for the finale celebrating a number of women-oriented pieces.

Minnesota Space (Oct. 5th)

We got a number of space-themed pieces from Holst’s “Jupiter” and “Mars” to the Star Wars theme to Dr. Who (is that really space? I don’t know, I don’t watch the show, but I thought their phone booth just went to other dimensions or something) to Frank Sinatra’s “To the Moon”. Minnesota seems to like to do these condensed “Mounds of Sound” (around 1:40-1:50) which I always find a bit interesting, if simple. Music is pretty good throughout, but sometimes it felt like they could have been a bit cleaner / showed some more contrast between the highs and lows. Drill is reasonable with some recognizable shapes and I do commend the color guard for using rifles in their performance. Minnesota was joined in the end by the Alums for traditional school songs.

Penn State Blue Band Alumni (Oct. 5th)

I’m not sure how much video we’re going to get this year from the Blue Band official site, so I’m going to start posting this “Superfan’s” video if I don’t see something on their official site. Anyway, we got two jazzed up, big band sounding ensembles which included “[Something I couldn’t understand - maybe handle?] with care” which apparently is also frequently called Hallelujah and an arrangement that the Blue Band called “Grass Roots”. The sound of both pieces was big and full and quite entertaining. Drill was reasonable, but the whole segment was short to allow the Alumni Band onto the field (who performed “Pinball Wizard” from The Who’s Tommy and something else that I couldn’t quite decipher). It sounds like one of the old guys with a drum major mace / baton was really hamming things up for the crowd reaction, but I can’t quite tell if that is what they are reacting to or not.


Sorry for the shortened week, but toothaches are not fun. At least the Advil has kicked in. Again, if anyone wants to give this their shot next week, I’d love to see what others can come up with.