Night games at the Shoe are rare and special occasions. Normally night games are against big name opponents, requiring the team to step up its game in order to pull off the victory and after a day of anticipation, and drinking, the crowd is very willing to step up its game as well, creating an incredible atmosphere that is hard to beat. The Ohio State University Marching Band also seems to step up its game for these primetime showdowns, often performing some of their most impressive and popular shows under the lights. Last year’s video game show from the night game against Nebraska was the perfect example of the band performing a special show for this special occasion. As we all know, that show was loved by everyone in the stadium and went viral, drawing media attention from around the globe. After that show many people were probably left thinking “how will the band top that?” Well, last week against Wisconsin the band answered that.
The special nature of the night was evident at Skull Session where Lebron James joined Urban Meyer in speaking to the fans and the band; James’s presence drew a mix of cheers and boos as one would expect.
The OSUMB’s pregame show opened with the traditional ramp enterance followed by the band forming a ‘W’ while playing “On Wisconsin.” The band then replaced the ‘W’ with a much more pleasing letter, forming a block ‘O’ from which they played “Hang On Sloopy”. Singing along to Sloopy always gets the crowd going and the band kept the fans fired up with the incomparable Script Ohio; the dotting of the ‘i’ is always a special moment but it is even cooler at night thanks to the obvious explosion of flashbulbs around the stadium. Following Script, the crowd joined the band in singing and playing “Carmen Ohio” before the band headed into its standard tunnel sequence for the team enterance.
Halftime saw the OSUMB pay tribute to Country and Western music. The show began with the band forming an image of a sunrise over the Rocky Mountains to the strains of “Better Dig Two” and from there a show unfolded that had pretty much everything anyone could want in an OSUMB show: recognizable picture formations, check, animated picture formations, check, a dig at Michigan, check. No western movie or show would be complete without a tombstone and the OSUMB gave us two, morphing from the sunrise to tombstones for Michigan and Wisconsin. The iconic western imagery continued with the band forming the head of a bull (1:21 in the video) and then a rotating cactus (1:39) while launching into “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. Last year TBDBITL gained international recognition with their moving surfer and galloping horse formations and this show included several animated formations, the first being a dancing cowboy who doffs his hat (1:58).
One of my favorite country and western songs is Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and the band apparently agreed, performing it while forming a cowboy hat and then a flower. The OSUMB then segued into “Wagon Wheel” while appropriately forming a rotating wheel and then an impressive animated formation of a man riding a bucking bull (4:15). Another classic country and western song is “Dueling Banjos” and the OSUMB provided an entertaining take on the famous piece. The duel started between Ross Runyon on trumpet and Nick Ater on sousaphone but quickly turned into a band-wide duel between the high brass and the low brass.
As impressive as the earlier animated formations were, the band wasn’t done with them as they formed a moving locomotive engine complete with rotating wheels and moving side rods while playing the theme song from “The Magnificent Seven.” The moving train was an impress piece of marching as it is very difficult to have the rotating wheels that are also moving down the field at the same time; there is a little deformation of the wheels at the start but they are fixed and the whole effect is very impressive. Halftime concluded with the band inviting the crowd to sing along “Happy Trails” as the sun set over the Rockies.
This show was one of the best combinations of marching and music that I have ever seen from a marching band. The drill, written by associate director Chris Hoch, featured recognizable formations with clean transitions and entertaining animations that required some impressive marching. As good as the drill was, it was at least matched by the music which was arranged by graduate assistant director John Brennan who also arranged last year’s video game show. John did a great job translating these classic country and western songs for the OSUMB and the band sounded the best I have ever heard it on the field. “Ring of Fire” was a difficult song to choose for the show due to how it is written. Marching bands prefer music to have an even number of beats in each measure when they are marching as that allows them to start each measure on the same foot. However, “Ring of Fire” is written in alternating 3/2 and 2/2 and the shifting meter is difficult for a marching band to pull off but I think the arrangement and the band did an admirable job with a tough song.
After a busy first five weeks of the season that saw the OSUMB perform at every football game which included a trip to California, the Battle of Lake Erie celebration, a Cincinnati Bengals game, several pep bands, and a performance this week at the opening ceremony for the President’s Cup golf tournament, the band members finally get a break this weekend. This is homecoming weekend at Northwestern and thus there was not time for a visiting band to also perform at halftime. While the band members would of course love to be at the game, a weekend to rest and get caught up on school work will be good as the rest of their season is equally as busy and starts next weekend; the football team gets next weekend off but the OSUMB will be hosting and performing at the Buckeye Invitational high school band festival; tickets are still available for only $11. I conclude this week’s article with one more video clip that shows just how awesome TBDBITL really is. Back on September 7th, only two hours after OSU defeated San Diego State and while most Buckeye fans were still drinking and celebrating the win, the OSUMB sent a pep band to Port Columbus to join a crowd in welcoming home the members of the Westerville Honor Flight, a program designed to help World War II and Korean War Veterans travel to Washington DC to visit their war memorial, a long overdue thank you for the service of these brave veterans.