clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Off Beat Empire: Look Who’s Coming to Dinner (UCLA)

We work hard regurgitating Wikipedia so you don’t have to

Stanford v UCLA Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Apparently there was a little conference news over the summer... something about two little schools out west joining the B1G? Maybe you guys heard something about it.

These schools represent a B1G media market and have historically been known for decent football (although you’ve got to go back to the days of Cade McKnown to really remember UCLA as being a contender). However, do they fit that most important criteria for B1G membership... a good Marching Band? Well, today we’re going to take our first half-assed, poorly researched attempt at getting to know one of our newest members, the UCLA Bruins Marching Band. The Basics:

  • Size: Apparently 250.
  • Founded: They claim 1919, but really 1921 as an ROTC Band and formalized in 1928.
  • Nickname: The Solid Gold Sound of UCLA.
  • Instrument Composition: Both brass and woodwinds.
  • Spats or heathens?: Partial heathens. They wear white shoes versus darker pants.
  • Hats: Shakos with plumes.
  • Capes: Little gold shoulder cape.
  • Twirler: Sigh. Apparently yes. At one time, they had a juggler instead (much better).
  • Memorization: From what I can tell, yes. I don’t see flip folders or phones in photos.
  • Fight Song: The Mighty Bruins. Apparently, did not debut until 1984.
  • Other School Songs: Strike Up the Band and Bruin Warriors. Strike Up the Band is from a 1927 Gershwin musical of the same name, which he gifted to UCLA in 1936 when he moved out West and they asked him for a tune for their band. Apparently Bruin Warriors was rewritten from Cal’s Fight Song, “The Big C”, in 1959 and was sometimes called “Sons of Westwood”. Although not featured by the Band, an alumni site also mentioned “Rover”, “Hail to the Hills of Westwood”, and “By the Old Pacific” as school songs.
  • Style: Corp glide-step halftime, high step pre-game.
  • Cheer: Eight Claps. Incorporated into both “The Mighty Bruins” and “Bruin Warriors”.
  • Sudler Trophy (one of the few college band recognition awards, albeit one which I don’t put much personal stock in): 1993.
  • Special Squads: None that I’m aware of. However, this is half-assed research.
  • YouTube Game: Not great, as there’s no official posting from the school. Still, there are plenty of fans who post their own recordings.
  • Travel: Typically one game a year and usually to the Bay Area (as well as the game against USC). Similar to the athletics teams, there is some controversy over state legislation that is supposed to prevent travel to certain states for political reasons. Regardless, it costs a lot to fly and a bus trip from LA isn’t exactly easy (I’ve driven to California and back myself ~ five times, though, so it’s possible, but always takes at least two full days). Aside from a trip to one of the really big venues (OSU, Michigan, Penn State), I suspect visits from the Bruins will be rare.
  • Permanent home in the Rose Bowl... that’s reason enough for other Bands to travel for road games.

I must have seen the Bruins in action at the 2005 Sun Bowl, but I don’t really remember the performance (which means they were probably solid, as I only seem to remember the bad Bowl performances from opposing schools - *cough* Tennessee *cough*). I do admit that I love the new UCLA blue, which is featured on the coats of the Marching Band. I don’t think there is a better color combination in the country than when USC plays UCLA, both teams in home uniforms.

Overall, it seems like UCLA will fit in nicely with the B1G Bands as a whole. Welcome to the family!

Poll

UCLA Marching Band

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Welcome, brothers and sisters
    (56 votes)
  • 38%
    The Band is fine, but I’m still not down with this expansion plan
    (42 votes)
  • 2%
    The UCLA Band hurt me in a way that I’m going to share in the comments
    (3 votes)
  • 6%
    GTom, you ignorant fool... this is what you should really know about UCLA (comments)
    (7 votes)
108 votes total Vote Now

Pre-Game of the Week (Indiana)

Thanks to a comment from Prove It, I’m going to start featuring one pre-game show per week. Pre-game is definitely an important aspect of getting the crowd (and Bands) hyped up, and most audiences probably care more about that performance than the more nuanced halftime shows. They are, however, usually the same from week-to-week and year-to-year, so this column would get really old if that was all I focused on. Given that we can’t cover every school over a season, names are randomly drawn from a hat and all performances are from this year (if I don’t have video, I’ll pull another name).

The Band drawn this week is Indiana’s Marching Hundred (video from Sept. 2nd)

  • First off, good tunnel run-on with the Band coming out of the buildings. Tunnel run-ons are always better... it’s always fun to go from just a few members visible on the field to hundreds. When the band starts from the sideline (like Northwestern has to, with the current layout - although we used to have two tunnels to come out of in the old Dyche stadium setup), it just doesn’t have the same dramatic effect.
  • In your face fanfare, check (and it’s fantastic).
  • Drum major contortion, check.
  • Energetic high step, check. Ooh... you still do the 270 degree left turns! Very nice, Indiana. Some schools have chickened out in the last couple of decades.
  • Marching formation with the letter of the school with a fight song, check.
  • Play the other team’s fight song... always a classy move... double-check.
  • Love ‘Merica, check.
  • Geographic outline of state... one of the hallmarks of a public university that really wants to connect with its people (and taxpayers).
  • Touching tribute to “the Colonel”, David Woodley, who directed Indiana for three decades and apparently passed away in May. Our condolences to Indiana.
  • More State (and State Flag) love.
  • “Kerncraft 400”. Hmm... interesting. I was expecting “Sing, Sing, Sing”. When did Indiana stop that for pregame?
  • Finish with “Indiana, our Indiana”, spelling the name and marching it down the field, before forming a split “I” tunnel.
  • Interesting... run out through a tunnel as well. Usually bands just drift to the sideline / their seats.
  • Good spirit squad and RedStepper participation, but no conference flags.

A nice energetic opener for the year. The crowd certainly seems to be into things. Nice job, Indiana.

Halftime Shows

There were more teams on the road last week, but video surfaced for a few names that don’t always find their way to my eyeballs. Refreshers with regard to scoring rules are located here. I have to admit that the top performances aren’t quite as strong as I would normally expect from the conference, but there are some good, solid performances throughout. I honestly think this is anyone’s game with regard to Reader’s Choice.

Win: University of Michigan Marching Band (+9), Sept. 17th “Places Where We Sing”

This week, Michigan featured a fairly large group of students from the musical theater department with snippets from a variety of tunes ranging from Lion King to Beyonce to Dolly Parton. Vocal performances are usually hard to pull off with Marching Bands because of the sound engineering, and that difficulty was magnified by 1,000 for this show because instead of standing in front of a bank of microphones, the troupe was very active both dancing and singing with different singers being featured on every tune. For the most part, I think the ensemble (and their sound engineer) pulled it off.

With regard to the marching band, Michigan was its usual very clean self, which really plays well into something like this where they are taking on more of an accompanist role. The drill was reasonable - the band could have used this as an easy excuse for a full Park N’ Bark, but they kept things active, at least partially matching the energy of the vocal troupe. Overall, I thought it was clean, well-executed, and the Band took a bit of a chance, which is always appreciated.

All that said, I’m curious how others will end up viewing this when it comes to the voting. The troupe was energetic as all get-out, but there was something just odd to me about the level of smiling (not that I’m petty, or grumpy, or anything). Tommy is working on the docks, barely getting by, living on a prayer. I know he’s got Gina, but do you think Tommy is smiling? Piano Man... they’re all depressed and putting bread in his jar and wondering what he’s still doing here. Mr. Brightside... somebody’s leaving with his girl (at least in his mind). I dunno... I think more frowns were in order, but maybe that’s just grumpy old me (I do love Killers tunes, though).

Place: The Ohio State University Marching Band (+6), Sept. 17th, “The Top 10: Ohio Stadium”

Usually when the Alumni Band makes an appearance AND the team is essentially playing pregame / stand songs as a part of their show, I wouldn’t place a show this high. However, as I’ve said before, the Buckeyes are consistent in delivering high quality on even some of their weakest shows, and sometimes the schedule just works to your advantage. I would also say that, unlike the last two shows that I posted here, these are tunes that Band knows well and really delivered the musical punches where they should. The Alumni Band performs drill (unlike just about every other B1G band in the conference), which is impressive. I can’t just toss their involvement aside as Park N’ Bark, as I would do for most other B1G alumni shows. Also, there’s a lot of them... The band isn’t that big in terms of numbers compared to, say, Nebraska, so that’s a pretty healthy portion returning. I still say that “Hang on Sloopy” is one of the best stand songs in college football.

All that said, this is still a very basic show by Ohio State standards and a bit of a cop-out on the music. I’m again curious about reader voting, because part of me wants to rank this much lower, but I feel the need to be fair and at least recognize good sound and a good deal of drill. A word to the Buckeyes, though... Archie Griffin was never that skinny.

Show: The Mighty Sound of Maryland (+4), Sept. 17th, “Diva Icons”

This was a really tough choice to pick my number three this week, with several of the names below having pretty good shows themselves. Maryland gives us a show that included Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody”, Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”, Britney Spear’s “Toxic”, and Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman”. Why did this rise above the others this week? I just think overall it sounded better. It was clean, different voices mixed it up in the arrangements, and everything held together throughout the show. It wasn’t particularly hard drill, but there were a reasonable amount of sets. Still, this was a tough call and I could see most of the readers having a different view.

I do note the Band Day at the very end, but Maryland gave us a complete show before then, so there is no Band Day disqualification for assessing points.

Others Receiving Votes

Indiana Marching Hundred (+2): Sept. 17th, “It Was Never a Phase”

Indiana goes all Emo on us with “Misery Business” and “Welcome to the Black Parade”, among others. I can’t say that I’ve been that into Emo music, and pretty much the extent of my knowledge is from the South Park episode “Dawn of the Posers”. “Welcome to the Black Parade” is a creepy video, though (which I had seen before), and while I know it’s part of the genre, I don’t exactly like to think about death as part of my halftime celebration. The sound was very good and this is one of the groups I seriously considered for Show, but ultimately, the show just felt too upbeat given the genre (maybe that’s part of Emo music... I don’t know).

Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band (+2), Sept. 10th “Celebrating 50 Years of CamBus”

I always expect 50 year anniversary shows, but never expect it to be about a bussing service! First and foremost, though... I’m glad that we got a posted video (and professionally done, at that). This is the kind of cheesy show that makes most halftimes fun in the conference. I mean, could the announcer have hammed this up any more if he had tried?! Still, that is a cute idea with the bus coming onto the field. Music choices were pretty good as well with “Life is a Highway”, “Carwash”, and “Drive my Car” among others. Overall, a fun show.

Nebraska Cornhusker Marching Band(+2), Sept. 10th “A Level Playing Field, 50 Years of Title IX”

So, clearly the 50th Anniversary that everyone is going to recognize this year is Title IX. I didn’t see that being the hot show of the year, but it makes sense. Nebraska gives us a variety of woman-based tunes including Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” and Katie Perry’s “Shooting Star”. I think the Cornhuskers might have gotten a higher placing this week if I had a more direct angle for the sound, but unfortunately, not enough comes through from the side here to really get the full effect. Still, this seemed like a good show. I’m also a bit surprised by the percussion pit... not too many bands do that anymore (although Rutgers does).

(+2) Sept. 17th “Game of the Century”

In another 50-year (+1 I guess) anniversary, Nebraska reminisces about their 35-31 victory over Oklahoma in 1971 (#1 vs. #2). Again, I apologize as the camera angle and sound is rough, but you can at least see the drill on this version. Sound is better, here, with the only tune I recognize being “Joy to the World” (I’m pretty sure I didn’t hear “Boomer Sooner” in the halftime rendition... that would have been quite magnanimous).

Rutgers Scarlet Knight Marching Band (N/A), Sept. 10th “?First Responders?”

This is a re-post of the show that we had bad video on last week, so no points, but I thought it was pretty good and worth sharing. I can’t quite understand the PA announcer to figure out the theme, other than he pays tribute to first responders. However, what Green Day’s “Welcome to Paradise” has to do with that, I have no clue.

Over-sharing comment for the week... I bought a drum set this summer, have been trying to teach myself (I’m not terrible, but not quite good yet, either), and I’ve been really into listening to Tre Cool (Green Day’s drummer) since then. He’s my Neil Peart, except, you know, somebody I actually want to listen to. Also, I miss my drums... UP drumming at midnight, not an issue. Drumming in the Chicago suburbs at midnight, issue.

Wisconsin Badgers Marching Band (+2), Sept. 17th “Title IX at 50”

Third Title IX / woman show. Songs include “Confidence”, “Girl on Fire”, “I’m Every Woman”. As usual for the Badgers, big steps and big sound.

Did Not Play, Coach’s Decision

For some reason, Minnesota isn’t up, yet (which is unusual for them). Neither is Northwestern. I did see that show live, although I was distracted by a friend of my Dad’s who stopped to say hello. What I did see looked decent, but I couldn’t tell you the theme for the life of me. The rest of the Bands either had a Bye or had teams on the road.

Poll

Readers’ Poll: Best Show this Week

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Michigan: Places Where We Sing
    (13 votes)
  • 21%
    Ohio State: The Top 10: Ohio Stadium
    (18 votes)
  • 18%
    Maryland: Diva Icons
    (15 votes)
  • 8%
    Indiana: It Was Never a Phase
    (7 votes)
  • 6%
    Iowa: Celebrating 50 Years of CamBus
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Nebraska: A Level Playing Field
    (0 votes)
  • 4%
    Nebraska: Game of the Century
    (4 votes)
  • 10%
    Wisconsin: Title IX at 50
    (9 votes)
  • 13%
    I’m still not watching any videos...
    (11 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now

Updated Standings

Last Week Reader’s Poll Results

A plurality of you (15%) agreed that Michigan State’s Stevie Wonder show was the best, awarding the Spartans another three points. Many of you picked the Purdue ‘80’s show as well, but there was a strong (12%) second-place showing for the Penn State Blue Band’s “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Top Gun” show. I can see why... those were some really good musical selections and arrangements that were well-played by Penn State. I’m kind of glad that they got a little love in the poll.

With the updates, the standings look like this...

Constructor’s Cup Standings*

School Total
School Total
Michigan State 15
Michigan 12
Ohio State 12
Nebraska 10
Purdue 10
Wisconsin 6
Indiana 5
Penn State 5
Maryland 4
Iowa 2
Minnesota 2
Northwestern 2
Rutgers 2
Illinois 0
* Does not include this week’s Readers’ Poll

Performance Average Standings*

School Average
School Average
Michigan State 7.5
Michigan 6
Penn State 5
Purdue 5
Maryland 4
Ohio State 4
Indiana 2.5
Nebraska 2.5
Iowa 2
Minnesota 2
Northwestern 2
Rutgers 2
Wisconsin 2
Illinois N/A
* Does not include this week’s Readers’ Poll

It’s early, but there are a few surprises thus far. I haven’t been able to get this much video on Nebraska before, but they seem to have a super fan who posts the shows this year, and they’ve got their “Master of Puppets” bonus to carry the average. I expect Illinois to start climbing the ranks once they have more appearances, but they only have one home game to date and that was Band Day.

There’s still plenty of time and room for pretty much everybody to work their way up in the standings, especially if they start hitting those bonus points (Metal, Aerosmith, Malaguena, Copland, etc.).