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Off Beat Empire: Look Who’s Coming to Dinner, Part 3 (Oregon)

Getting to know our new feathered friends

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

It used to be that I could maybe write this article once every two decades, but with the college football landscape changing the way it is, here we are with a brand new conference Marching Band to introduce to everyone. I just hope that I don’t have ten more of these to address in the next few years. Without further ado, let’s dive into the half-assed Wikipedia and Google research that you have come to know and love from every writer on this site...

  • Nickname: Huh... just Oregon Marching Band. I was kind of expecting something more creative from the Ducks. Maybe our readers can come up with something better.
  • Size: About 250. The Band welcomes all comers without auditions except the drumline (non-percussion instruments do audition to split into parts on the first day of Band Camp).
  • Founded: Like many schools, the origins of the Oregon Band are a bit murky. Their home page says that 1908 was the first time a Band course was listed, but they seem to indicate that 1911 is probably the first iteration of what we would today identify as a school Band. For a while in the 1920’s, the organization was under the jurisdiction of the military and was known as the Military Band, but came back under University control around 1927. It appears that the first football halftime performance occurred in 1929.
  • Instrument Composition: Both brass and woodwinds (plus percussion, of course). The ensemble also features a frontal pit.
  • Spats or heathens?: Heathens. Nikes. Seems like they have more than one pair (recent videos are in white, so you can still see their feet in motion).
  • Hats: Baseball caps of varying colors (more below).
  • Capes: No capes, darling. Ducks do fly, after all, and you wouldn’t want to be sucked into an aircraft engine...
  • Uniforms in General: How did I not research the Ducks when writing my uniform column last year? They’ve pretty much taken everything that I thought I was being original in recommending, and made it a reality with sugar daddy Phil Knight. No stodgy wool uniforms for the Ducks... everything is built around comfortable, athletic wear that is designed to be variable and worn in layers. Undershirts can be short-sleeve or long-sleeve and are, of course, Nike performance wear. Various colored vests are available, usually featuring a large “O” on the front. Comfortable, weather-proof jackets on top. Seriously... this is how to do it. It’s a uniform, not a costume.
NCAA Football: Portland State at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Looking good and looking comfortable...

  • Twirler: I don’t think so. Man... I am really starting to like this addition to the conference!
  • Memorization: I think so. I don’t see any phones / flip-folders in photos.
  • Fight Song: Mighty Oregon. Seems like a pretty good, punchy song to add to the conference.
  • Other School Songs: Others are listed on their Wikipedia page, but I don’t get the sense that they are much more than ordinary stand music. I do like listing the theme from “Duck Tales”, though...
  • Style: Pure glide step. No high step even for pre-game, it looks like, except maybe the run-on (actually, I think they’re literally just running at that point).
  • Awards: No Sudler or any other award that I’m aware of.
  • Drum Major Entrance: Ummm... guys... I don’t think they have one. No, I don’t mean just the entrance, I don’t think they have an actual drum major. Well... they do have students who conduct who I think are given that title, but I don’t think they actually do anything on the field and they certainly don’t wear anything like what we’re used to, or carry a mace, or anything like that.
  • YouTube Game: Quite good, actually. They have a dedicated site and many shows posted for this year.
  • Anything Else? Not really that I can tell. I’m going to need some of our west coast brethren to weigh in more heavily on what makes the Oregon Marching Band unique

Welcome to our feathered brothers and sisters and I hope that some of your uniform sensibility starts rubbing off on other B1G Marching Bands.


Oregon Marching Band

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Welcome friends!
    (46 votes)
  • 5%
    Those uniforms are awesome
    (8 votes)
  • 6%
    Burn the heretics (and GTom)! (Uniforms)
    (10 votes)
  • 5%
    Burn the heretics! (No Drum Majors prancing and bending to unnatural angles)
    (8 votes)
  • 3%
    Burn the heretics! (No high step)
    (5 votes)
  • 34%
    Burn the heretics! (All of the above)
    (54 votes)
  • 15%
    I’m sick and tired of making new friends... let me stick to hating the teams we have known for 100 years!
    (24 votes)
155 votes total Vote Now


I took a break last week (and might take another next week, simply because there aren’t always enough halftime shows in action to review - also, work has been murder). Coming back, though, there are a lot of great shows to feature.

Win: Michigan State Spartan Marching Band (+11), Oct. 21st “Stadium Rock Show”

I can’t get enough of the sound of the Spartan Marching Band. They’re just so full... all the voices from the Sousaphones on up to the screaming Trumpets and everything in-between. The arrangements are fantastic. They can take the most basic piece and seem to find a way to drop in all sorts of counter-melodies and licks that keep everything musically interesting, and then they top it off with that great drum line.

The show featured music from AC/DC (“Thunderstruck” and “You Shook Me All Night Long”), Journey (“Separate Ways” and “Any Way You Want Me”), and Queen (“Bicycle Race” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”). All the tunes were at a high level, but for some reaosn I particuarly liked “Any Way You Want Me”, even though I’m not normally a Journey guy.

The drill wasn’t anything too special and it did have it’s share of pauses, but overall, I think the Spartans still managed plenty of sets. The color guard was pretty good as well. Everything just looked sharp and clean under the lights.

However, it’s the sound that just wins me over. Others might disagree and there are a few good shows after this that I could see a lot of you picking in the Readers’ Poll, but when that Spartan sound is really on, I’m hooked. +2 bonus awareded for heavy metal (I recognize AC/DC).

Place: Michigan Marching Band (+6), Oct. 14th “Tales As Old As Time”

The Wolverines give us a variety of classical tunes, ranging from “The Nutcracker” to “William Tell Overture” to “Swan Lake”, among others.

Not everyone who reads this column will necessarily appreciate this, but if you were in Marching Band (as I was), this is really a technical masterpiece. I’ve said before that Michigan has a very clean sound. This show is basically perfection - I don’t think I can hear a stray note, anywhere, and the drill is executed flawlessly. These aren’t easy tunes to play, either. There are some quite difficult segments to the show that would be hard even in a concert setting, let alone making something sound this good on a football field. The drill is pretty full as well... there are a lot of sets that the Wolverines undertake (although there are more than a few pauses as well). I’m just a little bit in awe that they could perform something like this so cleanly.

The William Tell performance with the horse costumes was kind of fun as well. It reminded me of their inflatable dinosaurs a few years back, which still cracks me up thinking about it. I do note that after commenting that Michigan never seems to mock OSU in their shows the same way that the Buckeyes do in my last column, Michigan immediately proves me wrong through a Nutcracker sequence.

So, why not higher? Sometimes technical isn’t quite as entertaining. I’m highly impressed by Michigan’s execution, but there just isn’t the same over-the-top sound that we get from Sparty, who was very clean in their own right. Still, this is an outstanding show.

Show (Tie): The Ohio State Buckeye Marching Band (+4), Oct. 21st “Led Zepplin”

This wasn’t an easy one to place vis-a-vis Michigan. I had many moments where I thought of putting this higher in the scoring, but ultimately went with Michigan’s clean sound.

Let’s start with what is right. It’s Led Zeppelin, which is awesome. We have some great tunes, including “Rock N’ Roll”, “Kashmir” (which I don’t have on my iPod... how did I not transfer that over from my CD?), “All of My Love”, “Black Dog”, and “Stairway to Heaven”. The drill is fantastic as always - easily the best drill of anyone featured. Execution seemed to be quite good.

So why not higher? I admit, it’s a great show, but there’s just something about the combination of the sound or arrangement that I feel doesn’t quite match what I think of when I think Led Zepplin. It’s hard to describe, but I would say that it sounds like Ohio State playing Led Zepplin, as opposed to Led Zepplin performed by Ohio State (if that makes any sense). I thought the Illini did a better job a few years ago in capturing the essence of the group than the Buckeyes did.

Anyway, it’s still quite good, and knowing that many of you are as into bands like Led Zeppelin as I am, I suspect that more than a few of you will probably enjoy this show a lot (and pick them in your Readers’ Poll choice).

(Tie) Purdue All-American Marching Band (+4), Oct. 14th “Cartoon Halftime Show”

I almost missed this show this week, which would have been a shame as it is a good one. Purdue gives us a variety of cartoons ranging from “Pinky and the Brain” to “Family Guy” to “Bluey”. I know I’m getting old, because there are several others that I have no clue on... I only know Bluey because of my nieces (the two youngest do the dance to the theme every time it comes on... it’s adorable).

The sound here is right up there with Michigan State... well, maybe not quite as full, but a close second with a lot of volume, big punches, and clear as day. This just sounds great. Again, I’m having a hard time weighing this and Michigan’s performance, and this is an incredibly entertaining show. However, for some reason, I still feel like giving the nod the Wolverines for their technical execution (I honestly might feel differently, tomorrow - sometimes its tough picking between great bands).

Honorable Mention: Penn State Blue Band (+3), Oct. 14th “A Tribute to Quincy Jones”

I don’t know too much about Quincy Jones’ music, but I know enough about him to know that he was an incredibly influential producer and songwriter throughout his career (produced Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album for example). Penn State gives us a variety of tunes from his catalogue (although I can’t quite make out the titles from the announcer, but can pick out at least “Move on Down the Road” from Diane Ross / The Wiz).

I picked this for Honorable Mention, because aside from Michigan State and Purdue, I think this was the best sound of this week. There’s a lot going on in these arrangements, and the music is quite clear and full. Drill was a bit simple, though, with a lot of Park N’ Bark (even before the Alumni Band), which is why I didn’t place it toward the top.

Others Receiving Votes

Illinois Marching Illini (+2), Oct. 21st “Mambo”

Park N’ Bark performance of Mambo with the Alumni Band, prior to the traditional 3-in-1.

Indiana Marching Hundred (+4), Oct. 21st “Good Hair Day”

A play on Harry Potter, Harry Styles, and Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” (Hair Metal) before paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of women in the Band with the alumni to “Proud Mary”. Sounded and looked quite good. +2 bonus for heavy metal (Metallica - Master of Puppets really seems to be in vogue this year... it wasn’t really that big in the ‘80’s - most folks who I knew really started listening with the “And Justice for All” album).

Mighty Sound of Maryland (+2), Oct. 14th “Alphabet Soup”

“ABC” from the Jackson Five is one of my favorite go-to happy tunes to get me in a good mood. The Terrapins also performed Ariana Grande’s “NASA”, ABBA’s “SOS”, and finished with the Alumni Band to “YMCA”. I have to say, I’m surprised that more B1G bands don’t play YMCA on a regular basis (maybe they do and I just don’t know it). It’s such a popular stadium tune and always gets the crowd into things. Anyway, Maryland sounded great. The dance feature was earned.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Marching Band (+2), Oct. 14th “British Bands?”

I’m not quite sure what the official theme was, but basically there are few tunes from Queen and then the Beatles. I really liked the rendition of “Another One Bites the Dust”. As is usual for Rutgers, they have a really good sound.

Did Not Play, Coach’s Decision

I unfortunately don’t have video on Iowa or Nebraska performances for the past two weeks. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Northwestern were on the road or had byes. I still don’t have anything on Northwestern for the year.

Reader’s Choice


Which was your favorite?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    MSU "Stadium Rock Show"
    (113 votes)
  • 1%
    Michigan "Tales As Old As Time"
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    OSU "The Music of Led Zepplin"
    (12 votes)
  • 27%
    Purdue "Cartoon Halftime Show"
    (61 votes)
  • 1%
    Penn State "A Tribute to Quincy Jones"
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Illinois "Mambo"
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Indiana "Good Hair Day"
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Maryland "Alphabet Soup"
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    Rutgers "British Bands"
    (6 votes)
  • 6%
    See that... those are all examples of what real uniforms should look like!
    (14 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now

Scoring Update

Well, we had a tie for Reader’s Choice for the last column between OSU’s “Brutus in Wonderland” and Illinois’ “Pink Floyd Show”, both of whom got 25% of the vote. Both Bands are awarded +3 bonus points. In addition, you have spoken and agree with me that Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is too cool an album to deduct 50th anniversary points for, so the Illini avoid what would have otherwise been a one point deduction.

I seem to have explained the scoring a bit poorly in the past, so in the table below, I’m giving you the scores for each band for each column that I’ve written. I prepare an average, simply because not all bands have the same number of home games, so think of this as average score per show (and some weeks, like the first, had multiple shows from the same band because I was late in writing the column). I only count shows that I have seen and posted to this site - nobody gets penalized on the average for shows that I did not review (and they don’t get punished for Band Day or repeats that otherwise don’t count). Got it? Good.

Here’s the updated scores pending this week’s Readers’ Poll...

Current Standings

School Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Total Points # Shows Avg
School Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Total Points # Shows Avg
Ohio State 21 0 12 4 37 4 9.25
Michigan State 20 0 0 11 31 4 7.75
Purdue 15 4 0 4 23 5 4.6
Maryland 4 14 0 2 20 4 5
Illinois 3 0 12 2 17 4 4.25
Michigan 10 0 0 6 16 5 3.2
Minnesota 2 6 5 0 13 3 4.33
Penn State 8 0 0 3 11 4 2.75
Iowa 5 0 4 0 9 3 3
Indiana 4 0 0 4 8 3 2.67
Nebraska 4 2 0 0 6 3 2
Wisconsin 4 0 2 0 6 3 2
Rutgers 2 0 0 2 4 2 2
Northwestern 0 0 0 0 0 0 N/A


Welcome aboard, Ducks. We look forward to getting to know your band better after you join.