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Off Beat Empire: Look Who’s Coming to Dinner Part 4 (Washington)

Getting to know the University of Washington Husky Marching Band

NCAA Football: Washington at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Time for the conclusion latest installment of our series on new Marching Bands joining the B1G’s ranks. As always, we only feature the finest half-assed Google and Wikipedia research standards that you can literally replicate yourself, if you weren’t so lazy (they don’t teach these high quality journalistic methods in Medill). Maybe I can manage to get through this without misspelling Led Zeppelin 20 times, like I did in the last article (I’ve already misspelled Husky three times)...

  • Nickname: Husky Marching Band. Not too original, but they do seem to be comfortable dropping the “University of Washington” bit when referring to themselves.
  • Size: Wikipedia tells me 240 (and they seem oddly specific in that reference). The Band does require virtual auditions for woodwinds and brass, but seem to be quite apologetic about it, stating “Please do not let the fact that a playing audition is required discourage you from trying out. First and foremost, we want you in the band!” That kind of makes me wonder... who don’t they accept?
  • One more thing... apparently, membership is open to anyone who attends any area Seattle schools as well. I would be curious to know just how many other schools’ students partake in this opportunity. I have often wished that Northwestern would partner with Chicago area schools (Loyola, DePaul, UIC, Northeastern Illinois, etc. - just not the Maroons) to offer an expanded student section at games and open participation for Band and Spirit sections. These are the folks who are going to stay in the area and possibly become ticket holders. Alas, there’s no such forward thinking, so we end up with 4-5 Sousas and only a few snare drums (and tiny student attendance).
  • Founded: The school highlights that the first school-wide marching band was formed after two years of “exhaustive effort” in 1901 (seriously... what more does it take than saying “We’re going to meet here, and bring your instrument”?). This was a military-style band that could apparently get you out of compulsory drills at the time. However, the first organization to be recognized as the modern iteration of the Husky Marching Band took shape in 1929, eventually claiming many of the members of the ROTC band who had been playing at football games up until that point.
  • Instrument Composition: Full set of woodwinds (piccolos, but no flutes, though - I think that’s actually pretty standard beyond high school), brass, and drumline.
  • Spats or heathens?: Spats. One of us! One of us!
  • Hats: Traditional Shako with Gold Plumes.
  • Capes: Nope.
  • Uniforms in General: Kind of a traditional coat and pants, but they have an interesting patch on the sleeve that says “Husky Band, Touch of Class” with a Rose, which I’m told is the Band logo (it might be a Rose Bowl patch from 2019, but I don’t think so). Of course, the best part of the uniform is the purple... we’ll excuse the gold for the time being.
  • Twirler: Sigh. Yes. One.
  • Memorization: Looks like it.
  • Fight Song: Bow Down to Washington. It might just be me, but I think the song has a bit of an unusual sound to it... not a march, but more like a spirited overture to a old-timey Broadway musical comedy. It does have a reference to “harder to push through than the Dardanelles” in it, which is kind of creepy because it was composed in 1915 while the Gallipoli campaign was in full swing. I’m a bit surprised that reference has lasted this long.
  • There is also a faint reference to Vict’ry for Washington (no, I did not misspell it... that’s how they titled the song), which is more in line with what I would expect from a college fight song (and the one that I remember from the old EA Sports PS2 games).
  • I do have to say, I have never seen this little attention paid to a school’s fight song in my entire history of half-assed research. There isn’t a single reference on the Band’s home page, and nothing in the Wikipedia page other than a small reference in the right summary section. I’m not entirely sure if Vict’ry for Washington is really a second fight song, or something else.
  • Other School Songs: I barely got info on the fight songs. I’m not aware of anything else.
  • Style: Pure high (they use the phrase “chair”) step. Like, Wisconsin and OSU levels of high step, to the exclusion of anything else. I do have to say, they use the phrase “Big Ten Style” high step many times with pride in their web site... I’m not sure if that crept in after the re-alignment news or if they were proud of it beforehand, but they seem to be embracing at least one aspect of their Bigness.
  • Awards: None that I’m aware of (certainly, no Sudler). I never put much stock into the Sudler award, but I will highlight that 11 current or future Bands have been awarded the trophy at one time, and there have only been 33 winners to date. We either have some good bands, or the organization loves the Big Ten.
  • Drum Major Entrance: Very traditional B1G entrance. They do a back bend, but don’t quite reach the ground.
  • YouTube Game: Mixed, and it seems to have fallen off, lately. There is an official site and there were shows posted in what seems to be a timely manner as recently as last year, but nothing is posted for this year.
  • Anything Else? Kind of responsible for the “Wave”. Apparently, Cheerleaders founded a version in the late 1960’s and 1970’s that moved bottom-to-top instead of side-to-side. Per Wikipedia, “We tried to have card tricks but the kids would imbibe too much and the card tricks would get all goofed up”. The modern wave is credited to an NHL game in 1979, but apparently, the Husky Marching Band was one of, if not the first adopter to get it going in a college stadium in 1981. Supposedly, Michigan brought it back after playing the Huskies in Seattle.
  • They don’t have a color guard. I guess I haven’t really talked about it before, but neither does Ohio State or Wisconsin. It looks like the Huskies will fit in well with those two schools.

That’s pretty much it for the Huskies. Welcome to the conference!


Husky Marching Band

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Welcome Brothers and Sisters!
    (45 votes)
  • 20%
    Purple is a beautiful color
    (30 votes)
  • 9%
    Husky is my favorite kind of dog
    (14 votes)
  • 16%
    Glad to see another school value the traditional high step at halftime
    (25 votes)
  • 5%
    They should all be shot for introducing / spreading the "wave"
    (8 votes)
  • 17%
    How many other bands do I have to learn before expansion ends?!
    (26 votes)
148 votes total Vote Now


OK, I haven’t actually looked at the shows, yet, but we’re in Halloween and Veterans Day season, so I think we’re going to get some incomplete “Salute” and “Thriller Dance” deductions. We’ll see...

Huh... now that I’m done, I’m surprised that there were zero Halloween shows this year. That never happens.

Win: Michigan State Spartan Marching Band, Nov. 4th (+8), Nov. 4th “Veterans Day”

Sometimes there is a part of me that just doesn’t want to pick these shows because they are formulaic, but you have to recognize good sound and good drill when you hear and see it.

This is a show based upon patriotic tunes to honor Veterans Day. The Spartans start with what sounds more like a Concert Band arrangement where I didn’t quite catch the title, but I think it is a variation on Semper Fidelis and is basically an extended piece based upon the Marines’ Hymn. We then get “God Bless the USA” and finish with a rousing version of “Salute to the Troops”.

What can I say... Sparty sounds fantastic. They always do. The opening piece was complex and musically interesting, although sometimes I feel like pieces like this stretch a theme out a bit too long. There’s only so much you can do before it starts to sound a bit repetitive. The other pieces were a bit more straight-forward, and we of course get the good animation for each service (I liked the submarine in the act of submerging).

However, Sparty did not honor the Space Force, so they get a one point “incomplete salute” penalty.

Place: Northwestern University Marching Band (+9), Oct. 28th “Latin Show”

I’m going to have to take some liberties, here. You’re not getting a complete video of this show, as it opened with “El Toro Caliente”, which was really the best part of the whole show. Unfortunately, this video starts with the second, much slower piece. However, I was there live, and the whole time I kept thinking, “If they just put a recording of this up, it will be in contention for the win.”

This really was a fantastic performance on the part of the ‘Cats. It sounded great and there was plenty of drill / movement. Of course, it helps that I’m a sucker for Latin Shows, but NUMB really put their best foot forward on this one. I was very proud watching this performance after being disappointed with the Band for much of the year.

Honestly, part of me wants to put this higher, but I can’t with a straight face say that the sound really matched MSU - and of course, the rest of you who weren’t in attendance on that day (and there weren’t many actually in attendance) will have no idea how good this performance really was, so I can only go so far. Still, I write this column, so I reserve the prerogative to evaluate based on what I saw versus what got uploaded to YouTube. Don’t like it? Write your own column.

The ‘Cats repeated the show for Wrigley, but with all the crowd noise coming from the 20:1 Iowa representation and the fact that I was sitting by the sinkhole near home plate, I don’t think the crowd really got the full benefit of what was being performed.

Scoring includes +3 points for “El Toro Caliente”.

Show: Mighty Sound of Maryland (+4), Nov. 4th “Grease”

You apparently are the one that I want (ooh, ooh, ooh, baby). Given how many times my sister made me watch this movie as a kid, this would have been a major “50th Anniversary” deduction last year. However, despite having every reason to hate the theme, I’ve got to admit... this was a darn good show.

Maryland sounds great. That opening hit really got me. What a way to start the show with that three-second brass lick following the initial chord. There seemed to be a really good energy throughout - the drill really matched the music quite well in this performance. The dancing feature was great, both from the actual dance squad and the little interlude performed by the Band. Overall, just a really great show - very entertaining.

Now if, Sheri can just stop the video cassette so I can watch cartoons, I’ll be happy.

Honorable Mention: Michigan Marching Band (+3), Nov. 4th “What a Wonderful World”

Don’t let the title fool you, there was no Nat King Cole performance incorporated herein. Rather, this was a collection of tunes in one way or another connected to environmentalism (songs from the Lorax, “Joy to the World”, etc.).

As usual for Michigan, the show was incredibly clean and sounded very good. I particularly liked the “Joy to the World” opener. Drill was complete for the performance. Michigan also always looks good under the lights.

However, as good as this was, I just wasn’t all that into some of the music once they got beyond Jeremiah being a bullfrog. Really good sound and really good execution worthy of the Honorable Mention, but this didn’t quite have the entertainment value that Maryland exhibited this week.

Others Receiving Votes

Marching Hundred (+2), Nov. 4th “That ‘70’s Show”

Music featuring James Taylor, Dooby Brothers, and Bill Joel. Features RedStepper Dads for a segment, which just goes to show, they clearly get all their talent from their mothers... I liked their arrangement of “Piano Man”.

Minnesota Marching Band (+2), Oct. 28th “80’s at the Movies”

Fun show featuring music from Top Gun, Back-to-the-Future (“Power of Love”), Against All Odds, and Footloose. Good sound from Minnesota and plenty of drill.

(+1), Nov. 4th “Salute to Service”

Also a good, well-rounded show for Minnesota featuring “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, “God Bless the USA”, and “Salute to the Troops”. Unfortunately, left off the Space Force, so -1 “incomplete salute” penalty.

Nebraska Cornhusker Marching Band (+2), Oct. 28th “Saturday”

They called their show “100 Years at Memorial Stadium”, but the actual show was tunes that featured a reference to Saturday (“Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting”, music from Saturday Night Live, etc.). Nice, clean show from the ‘Huskers.

Wisconsin Marching Band (+2), Oct. 28th “Disney”

Nice collection of tunes from Disney ranging from “When You Wish Upon a Star” to “Hakuna Matata”. Wisconsin usually does a lot of sets, but this seemed to be even more than usual.

Some of the show was repeated for a trip to Lambeau the next day...

I know other bands have done this when visiting other cities, but performing twice in two days is a tall task. That can take a lot of energy out of you.

Did Not Play, Coach’s Decision

Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, OSU, and Purdue were all either byes or on the road. I have seen a show for Penn State up on a certain fan site that appears to be a Veterans Day performance, but I’m going to wait to see if I get a recording from their main page. I didn’t see anything yet for Rutgers’ Nov. 4th game.

Reader’s Poll


Which show was your favorite?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    MSU "Veterans Day"
    (102 votes)
  • 1%
    Northwestern "Latin Show" (you are really taking my word for it, or were the other guy in attendance that day)
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Maryland "Grease"
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Michigan "What a Wonderful World"
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Indiana "That ‘70’s Show"
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Minnesota "80’s at the Movies"
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Minnesota "Salute to Service"
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Nebraska "Saturday"
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    Wisconsin "Disney"
    (6 votes)
  • 12%
    You’re such a homer picking your ‘Cats without complete video...
    (19 votes)
147 votes total Vote Now

Scoring Update

I sometimes wonder if certain pockets of fans find this article at the same time. For the last column, the poll seemed to jump out with 60 quick votes for Purdue’s “Cartoon Show” and I thought that was going to be the runaway favorite. However, then 100 votes suddenly showed up for the Spartans. Ultimately, it was MSU’s “Stadium Rock Show” winning 51% of the vote, Purdue at 27%, and everyone else in single digits. Michigan State gets +3 points.

Updated standings pending this week’s Reader’s Poll is as follows:

Updated Score

School Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Total # Shows Average
School Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Total # Shows Average
Michigan State 20 0 0 14 8 42 5 8.40
Ohio State 21 0 12 4 0 37 4 9.25
Maryland 4 14 0 2 4 24 5 4.80
Purdue 15 4 0 4 0 23 5 4.60
Michigan 10 0 0 6 3 19 6 3.17
Illinois 3 0 12 2 0 17 4 4.25
Minnesota 2 6 5 0 3 16 5 3.20
Penn State 8 0 0 3 0 11 4 2.75
Indiana 4 0 0 4 2 10 4 2.50
Northwestern 0 0 0 0 9 9 1 9.00
Iowa 5 0 4 0 0 9 3 3.00
Nebraska 4 2 0 0 2 8 4 2.00
Wisconsin 4 0 2 0 2 8 4 2.00
Rutgers 2 0 0 2 0 4 2 2.00

Michigan State is making a strong push to dethrone the reigning champs this year. It’s nice to see the ‘Cats finally join everyone else on the scoreboard and they did it in dramatic fashion, although I guaranty you that the average would be much lower if all the shows were posted (this is why the average points winner will need to have at least four shows).


It looks like the Husky Marching Band is going to fit right in with the rest of the conference. Only a few penalties handed out this year, but bands really need to remember that Space Force is a thing, and if you’re going to salute the Coast Guard, you need to salute the Space Cadets as well.