Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WTI: Cirque and Destroy

Craig: Good evening and welcome back to another edition of WTI: Cirque du Solame
Geoff: Those who weren't numb by halftime may have noticed that Saturday's MMB show was rather different from what you usually see.
Craig: I was numb, frozen, and still noticed.
Geoff: The theme was, in fact, "Cirque du Soleil". Yes, that "Cirque du Soleil".
Craig: French Canadians without the involvement of Rocket Richard makes me sad.
Jeremy: Cirque music has exploded in popularity among high school marching bands, and it's not surprising Boerma wanted to bring it to the college level.
Geoff: No, it wasn't a big surprise, given his connection to the high school level.
Jeremy: We were promised "corps style marching and footwork, and I thought the marching and formations were actually a focus of the show instead of just ambient background to accompany the music.
Craig: Um, can I ask a question though? I wouldn't recognize the music of Cirque if you gave me three dozen chances. Was I not the target audience of this show?
Geoff: The target audience of the show was the OSUMB.
Jeremy: I wouldn't either, but the intent was to impress you with it, not get you to sing along.
Geoff: Yeah, but the music (at least from the brass and winds) was kind of the background for the marching and the drums.
Craig: I guess being in the end zone, and in the third row, it's hard to be impressed by footwork. Not a knock, that's just visuals.
Geoff: That's a valid point. It's tough when either you don't have either the larger view or the close-up one. The middle distance is rough.
Jeremy: I thought it was an interesting departure from the MMB's traditional style – less big swoopy forms, and far more drill 'activities' in small sections like follow-the-leaders, rotating boxes, ripple effects. And a drum break!
Geoff: For what it was, it was a well-designed, well-executed show, but one that left 98% of the stadium scratching their heads.
Jeremy: Agreed.
Craig: I think that's a very fair assessment Geoff, and the problem with that is, that's over 100,000 people scratching their heads.
Jeremy: It was certainly a dramatic contrast from OSU's Yay America show.
Craig: Hey, you can't boo freedom, right?
Jeremy: Exactly. And that's why they bring something sentimental and/or patriotic to Michigan Stadium each time. We get it, guys – Veterans Day is the Monday before the game. But it *always* is.
Geoff: They even used the same streamers from 2005, I think.
Craig: Well, they do have all those extra swallow-tail flags...
Jeremy: For those who missed it, OSU spelled out the names of the service academies while playing the official song of each (Anchors Aweigh, etc) and making some rotating lines that didn't set well.
Geoff: I think I'd like this show better if it wasn't the last one of the year. I'd rather see a show that engages the whole stadium to close out the year. If you want to get experimental, don't leave it for your last show. I know, I know we want to stun the OSUMB into dumbstruck awe, but I'd rather try to do that by getting the stadium fired up.
Craig: Exactly. The stadium was deader than dead at halftime due to the weather and perhaps the most boring half of football in recorded human history, we needed something that would get the crowd back into it. This show was not that...
Jeremy: I've been scratching my head since August on Cirque for this week's show. Maybe if they'd had the flags make a thirty-person pyramid, suspended from a cable, underwater...
Geoff: With Chinese acrobats on spinning ropes...
Craig: Or the magic of charging you $85 and convincing you that what you're seeing is amazing...
Jeremy: And they mean to tell us there's not one contortionist in the band willing to be set on fire inside a giant glass ball?
Geoff: Kids today just aren't as tough as they used to be. Back in the Cavendar era you woulda had 14 volunteers for that.
Craig: Including two dousing themselves with lighter fluid AS they volunteered just to show their commitment.
Geoff: Since the bowl game show will be a repeat of a previous halftime, this effectively marks the end of Boerma's first year at the helm of the MMB. For me, the highlight of the year was the Guitar Hero show. Excellent songs, great arrangements, obvious (and effective!) pandering to the students, but since it's classic rock, it engages the whole audience.
Craig: Agreed. I don't know that I have ever enjoyed a MMB halftime as much (admittedly, the stomping of Notre Dame made that easier to do) and I think it compares favorably with, say the Cal band's tribute to video games.
Jeremy: ...And the Cal band's tribute to video games compared favorably to the MMB's 2004 video game tribute.
Geoff: It was a great show, but it doesn't quite catch up to the magnificent Monty Python halftime, for me.
Craig: I will note, I missed the Python show live.
Jeremy: Guitar Hero was the most effective, since it engaged the audience most directly. I liked the music from the Modern Broadway show the best, but I'm a sucker for Springtime for Hitler.
Craig: Continuing the fine tradition of not saying aloud what the name of the song is if it might raise eyebrows.
Geoff: Oh, that was a good one too. And even though I'd never heard the music from Wicked before, I really liked how it all turned out.
Geoff: As important as the on-field results are, the off-field stuff is a big part of the director's job. I don't have any sort of line into the current MMB, but from what I've heard, relations with the Alumni Band have markedly improved this year.
Jeremy: I do, but wasn't aware there were problems. Does this mean more gigs?
Geoff: I don't know. Possibly more baseball or softball games, I'd imagine. Maybe an impact on donations, I'd say, if the alumni are kept happy. But mostly it gives me confidence that other off-field things are being taken care of and I won't show up to practice one day to hear that our trip to Penn State this week has been cancelled because we have no money [Note: This actually happened once when I was in the band].
Jeremy: It seems like there are halftime show sponsorships every week now. At $10,000 a pop, that's helpful. The Irwin family deserves a wing of Revelli Hall.
Geoff: Absolutely. And if we ever manage to build up the endowment enough, maybe we'll go back to two road trips every year. Anyway, we'll see how things carry into the next semester and the offseason.
Jeremy: Let's hope the functional extensions of the MMB – the athletic pep bands – get some quality media attention this year, as both programs are poised for headlines (right?).
Geoff: If we win the College Hockey Showcase, or just beat Minnesota (fingers crossed), let's hope the hockey team gets some pub. And, hey, basketball could go crazy and be competitive with UCLA.
Craig: The Michigan hockey team is doing right now what we have wanted them to do do for years, win the games they should win.
Geoff: Thanks to everyone who reads this.
Craig: Indeed. Again, happy Thanksgiving, and remember folks, just because football season is over doesn't mean we're going anywhere.
Jeremy: But if we DO go somewhere, let's hope it's Tampa Bay and not San Antonio or Orlando.
Jeremy: Goodnight!


nicolle said...

are you kidding? a cirque de soleil-themed marching band show? that's quite a boggling choice.

very amusing commentary on it, though. :)

Aram said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ed Cormany said...

does anyone have a video or at least a song list from the show? as one of the 2% of the crowd who would have got it (had i been there, but alas i graduated last spring), i'm curious.

Lewis said...

The set list was Jardin Chinois from La Nouba and Incantation from Quidam, both by Benoit Jutras.

I had mixed feeling about this show, especially as a participant in it. It seemed to me like the kind of show we typically bring to MSU,flashy, complex pieces that make us look like a good technical band.

I agree with Geoff, the fans needed a show that would have fired them up, especially on a cold, miserable day and half of football.

That sort of show was largely lacking this season. I realize we need to play music that doesn't directly pander to the student section, but the people who's energy is most affected by halftime is the students, who can go from boisterous and loud(ish) to dead silent fairly easily. Play Bobby Darrin for the alumni, and you still get generally quietesse from a section who sent a letter to the AA News declaring that all the standing and shouting had convinced him he never wanted to come back. (That same letter accused the band of directly assisting the student section's "You Suck" cheer, which prompted a counter-letter from me).

I think Boerma will gradually clue into this, perhaps replacing "think" with "hope", he says he's open to suggestions for Bowl Trip show, but i think we'll end up with Modern Broadway or Cirque, which may work out, since most bowl game attendees are Alumni.

Here's hoping to avoid San Antonio, I don't think I can look at the Alamo Dome with having a small aneurysm.


jeffsl said...

tOSUMB trotted out the Service Academy medley back during my freshman year in '89. Looks like it's a regular thing with them.