The question that has been rattling around in my mind this week has been “does being awesome all the time ever get boring?” I wonder if the directors of the Ohio State University Marching Band or its members ever wake up in the morning and go “you know, just for a change of pace maybe we won’t be awesome today.” Buckeye fans have known for generations how awesome TBDBITL is and in the past two years millions more people around the world have come to realize that too. Last year the band’s moving surfer formation, NASA show, and video game show received worldwide attention and the band hasn’t missed a beat this season when it comes to continuing its tradition of excellence. This past week’s tribute to the music of Michael Jackson may not have become the viral sensation that last year’s video game show became but it has received attention from numerous sources including USA Today, the Today Show, Good Morning America, Reddit, Huffington Post, and countless other sources that I’m too lazy and tired to look up.
The OSU band started their halftime show tribute to the King of Pop with “Thriller” and in a nice change, they actually didn’t do the infamous dance. While some readers are probably going “hey, I love that dance” it has been very overdone in recent years by marching bands doing a Michael Jackson, or Halloween, show and I was happy to see the OSUMB take a more original approach, instead forming a giant interlocked ‘MJ’ on the field. The band then did a drill involving a series of moving blocks and straight lines to the song “Bad” before spelling out the name of the song on the field. The band then moved into a medley of “Wanna Be Startin Something”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, and “Billie Jean” while forming a giant silhouette of Michael Jackson, complete with one glove, that moonwalked down the field before doing a split as part of a less than two minute sequence which has gained the band even more international fame and attention. Over the past two seasons we’ve become used to seeing the OSUMB make animated formations but just because they do it fairly often doesn’t mean that it is easy and lots of credit needs to go to Jon Waters for designing the excellent drill and figuring out how to make it work and of course to the band members who executed it. The show concluded with the Ohio State Gospel Choir joining the band on the field for “The Man in the Mirror”. I was very happy to see that the band chose to do “The Man in the Mirror” as it is actually probably my favorite Michael Jackson song and the inclusion of the gospel choir was a nice thought by the band. However, while the gospel choir is great, the realities of how Ohio Stadium mics and sound work made it very had to clearly hear and understand the choir, hurting the effect of having them on the field. Despite that, it was once again another excellent show by the band with great music by Dr. Ted McDaniel and drill by Director Jonathan Waters, and the moonwalking formation definitely will go down as one of the most famous formations the band has done in years. Following the tribute to Michael Jackson, the band helped the Department of Recreational Sports celebrate its 100th anniversary.
The fact that more than 6 million people have watched the halftime show on Youtube speaks to the popularity of the show and the band in general. Of course, like anything else, there will be critics and a trip through the comments section on Youtube, or the various articles on the performance, will show that some people did not like the band honoring Michael Jackson due to the controversy surrounding him being accused of child molestation. I’m not going to enter into the argument about whether Jackson was innocent or guilty because I do not know what really happened and it doesn’t matter for the case in hand. The band was providing a tribute to Jackson’s music and no matter who he was as a person, his music was still great; history is full of horrible people who made important contributions to society that should not be forgotten or ignored just because of the kind of person who created them. Of course some people find crazier things to criticize, as evidenced by a video on Youtube where it was argued that the band formations used honored Satan and questioned whether the OSUMB director’s had sold their soul to Satan for the talent to write shows like this; unfortunately the video has been taken down by Youtube so I cannot share the full hilarity of it.
This past weekend was homecoming at Ohio State which meant a change in schedules for band members compared to a normal game week. After practice on Friday, the band marched in the annual homecoming parade, videos below. Now some people may wonder why the band wasn’t in full uniform for the parade, instead wearing sweats or tshirts and shorts and their hats. The major reason for this is that the parade occurred right after practice and instead of taking away important practice time to get in full uniform, the band marches in what they wear to practice. The band practices Monday through Friday every week and for most of those practices band members can wear whatever they like. However, the day before a performance is known as Grey Day where band members wear their grey practice uniforms which feature the marching band logo and their uniform hat and plume. This is a tradition that goes back many years and helps to highlight the increased importance of that practice and need for greater focus and concentration. Grey Day is also the day when music checks are conducted to ensure that all band members have memorized all the music for that week’s show.
Another departure from the normal schedule for the band is that during homecoming Script Ohio is performed after the game and toward the East side of the stadium. Moving Script to postgame is a tradition that was done in order to allow for time to honor the homecoming court before the game; performing Script toward the East side of the stadium is done so that the fans on that side can actually enjoy the full effect of the band’s performance for a change as most band shows are performed to the West side of the stadium.
This week will once again feature the OSUMB performing some familiar music as these feature a show dedicated to the music of Hollywood blockbusters which of course has a huge potential for some awesome formations; we’ll just have to watch and see what they have in store for us. The Penn State Blue Band will also be traveling to Columbus for the game and will be performing at pregame, halftime, and Skull Session (start time is 5:40pm with doors opening around 4:00pm). The Blue Band is one of the top bands in the Big Ten and fans at the game will be in for a real treat to see two quality bands performing. Some of you may recall hearing about the incidents that occurred in Happy Valley when TBDBITL visited in 2005; I won’t go into details but band members were assaulted by many Penn State fans on the way to the game and at the game. That incident was horrible and should never have happened but the Penn State band was not to blame for what happened and their members were as horrified and upset about the incidents as Buckeye fans were. I only point this out because I hope that Buckeye fans at this weekend’s game will not seek to get revenge for that incident, the Blue Band members had nothing to do with it and we are Buckeyes, we should be better than that. I fully expect that nobody who reads these articles would ever engage in behavior like that as you most likely appreciate the work and performances of the bands but I would urge you to make sure that the OSU fans around you also behave around the Penn State band, lets show them that awesomeness isn’t limited to the OSUMB but extends to all Buckeyes.