Monday, September 25, 2006

Focus On The Bands: Wisconsin game

Wisconsin Marching Band

This band is overrated. They put on an impressive physical show, but the musicality just isn't there. Essentially doing a half high-step, it's way too easy to frack every note out there. There are a lot of Cavendar-era MMB alums out there that lament that the MMB has become "just another drum corps-style band", but there are solid, solid reasons behind the switch and I saw a lot of them on display today. When your show is "modern Broadway", you need to be able to play that style, and a high-stepping band can't do that very well.


Wow. I was kind of "eh" on the Michael Jackson show they were bringing this week (Are they ever going to turn and play to the side of the field opposite the press box?), but then they got to "Thriller". Awesome, just awesome. The band formed three tombstones (labeled VU, CMU, and ND), Carl did a spooky voiceover, and the band did the Thriller dance. The students loved it. Best show of the year so far. Even with their size and all-brass instrumentation, Wisconsin was totally blown off the field.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Focus On The Bands: Central Michigan game

Chippewa Marching Band

They are such a MAC band. Lots of park-and-blow. Their fight song is above average, but that might be because I already knew it. My mom went to CMU and my sister used to have a bear that would play the fight song when you squeezed a button.


Another rock show, this time pop-punk. Not too bad a result. Green Day's "American Idiot" wasn't as successful as when they did "Basket Case" a few years back, but it worked. Good Charlotte's "The Anthem" had me torn. The band did well, but in the end they were still playing Good Charlotte. I'll assume this is what they're taking to Notre Dame.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Focus On The Bands: Vanderbilt Game

Vanderbilt University "Spirit of Gold" Marching Band

Vanderbilt's band sported that beauty-queen sash thing that's favored a lot more in the South and high school bands than is cottoned to here in the Big Ten. I wasn't as early for this game as usual, so I thought that I might have missed their pre-game performance, which was disappointing to me, but then they didn't march a halftime show either. Vanderbilt came all the way from Nashville with a pep band. They weren't very large, nor were they loud. They didn't even stay for a postgame set with the MMB. They make Indiana's Marching Hundred seem impressive.


For the rest of the season, assume the following comments to be valid: The musicianship is excellent, the marching is so-so (especially on entries in pre-game), and I wish the band was louder. That said, today's show (Led Zeppelin) was very good. I whole-heartedly approve of pandering to the student section, because they seem to be the only part of the stadium to respond to anything with more than *vague grumble*. And Zep rulz!

The biggest change to this year's band is that they're back in the corner of the endzone at the bottom of the student section, where they were for almost all of my youth before being moved to the 15-yard line opposite the students shortly before I began playing in the band.

In Section 8, Row 85, the move back is welcomed. Before, you couldn't really hear much of anything. Putting the band directly in the corner of the stadium gives them much better coverage when they play and puts the student section directly adjacent to their cheers. Good call.