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A closer look at the Oregon State University Marching Band

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We're looking at the bands of the Pac-10. We looked previously at Washington and Washington State. Today, we are taking a closer gander at the Oregon State Beaver's band. What their likes? What are their dislikes? Can they fit their entire fist in their mouth for money? All the important questions you have been, in no way, asking me.

AndaPanda from SBN's OSU site, "BuildingTheDam" was incredibly helpful with information on the Beavers band. He started off by telling me a few basic facts:

The Oregon St. marching band is known as "The Spirit and Sound of OSU", the oldest band in the Pac-10. The 2010-11 year was their 120th.

The marching band has experienced an almost unprecedented injection of growth in the last few years, increasing in size from around 140 in 2008 to 260 for football in 2010.

I'm not sure what would account for this explosive growth, but I presume the rise of OSU football as a Cal killer would be it. Everybody wants to be rooting for the team that can manage to beat Cal. Everybody. So, it makes sense that 80 additional people would sign up for the OSU band. They want to watch the Cal game for free every other year JUST. THAT. BAD.

After the jump, let's take a closer look at the Beavers band. I learned a lot about OSU and Corvalis by working on this post. For example, did you know that Corvallis is actually very close to Portland and Eugene and that it is actually closer to Portland than Eugene is.   For some reason, I thought Eugene was in the western part of Oregon while Corvallis was WAAAAAAAAAAAY on the eastern side of Oregon. That is why all those sheep jokes made sense.

But if Corvallis is actually CLOSER to the major urban area of Portland than Eugene and even actually west of Eugene, perhaps the sheep jokes are more apropros for the rural eastern Oregon city of Eugene. We can discuss this more after the jump, because I wouldn't want to be making fun of OSU inappropriately.  Or do I?  GO BEARS

History (i.e. origins)

Wikipedia has a handy timeline:


1890 - Brass band organized in November; students had to procure their own instruments.
1901 - Self-sustaining Department of Music established.
1917 - "Carry Me Back," is written by W. Homer Maris.
1919 - "Carry Me Back," is adopted by OSU as the Alma Mater.

The Oregon State is one of the oldest marching bands in the Pac-10, having been around since 1890. It has a long and interesting history.  But nobody is going to tell me that history.  AndyPanda indicates that the OSU marching band has yet to put a history page together. This is all making my job harder. And I'm nothing if not an incredibly lazy man. So, let's move on before I have to potentially google something. The horror. The horror.

The one part of the history that I can gleam from AndyPanda is that it now have white elbow length gloves with white gaunlet dealies.



AndyPanda has indicated that this is the new look for the OSU band. Any photos you see with them in black gloves can be safely destroyed as they are reflective of an older aesthetic no longer appreciated by the OSU marching band.

So, there we go.  120 years of history and all I can figure is that they had black gloves and now they have white.  Corvallis, Oregon:  TASTE THE EXCITEMENT!

Traditions (if known/any)

Anybody who has ever seen an OSU fan at any point ever knows they love to do their OOOOOO ESSSSS UUUUUUUUUUU chant with the corresponding hand motions when they are excited. It doesn't even have to be at football games. Weddings, bar mtizvahs, even brisses.

"Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"

"I do"


It's all very standard up there in Oregon to see people get a great grade on a test and just break into the chant in the middle of class.

AndyPanda tells us:

As far a game day traditions, the band day starts more than 2 hours before kickoff, with a pep rally, capped by the arrival of the team, which always walks down Ralph Miller Way, the street that runs between Reser Stadium and Gill Coliseum, to the Valley Football Center.

The band breaks into several sub groups, and plays for tailgaters and alumi before moving into the stadium for the pregame show.

The Cal band's pregame pep rally starts 1:30 before the football game, but the OSU band starts their 2 hours. You wanna know why? The OSU band marches a lot slower. Molasses Step is their main form of marching. They love that Molasses Step.  Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but who am I to know the ways of the Corvallisians?  Corvallii?  

AndyPanda tells us of another important Oregon State tradition. This time with extra sexism:

Another band tradition has to do with the Dad's Day game, when dads of band members not only are the group to present the flag for the anthem, are integrated into the halftime show (though we attribute the decision by FSN to not air the Washington St. game in 2009 to what they saw of that!)

Notice there is no mom's day. Not even a aunt's day. Just dad's. Now, you might be asking yourself, is this a real thing that exists? Yes! I have even reviewed photos to confirm that they are, in fact, dads.

Here is a dad:





This one is definitely a dad.



Could go either way on this one.



Looks like he's on his way to an Arcade Fire concert and any kid he has is about 14 months, at most.  Basically, what I'm trying to say is if this guy is a dad, I need to know his skin care regiment immediately!

Dad alert! Dad alert!



I personally reviewed all those photos and can confirm they are all dads. I do the work so you don't have, too.

And what do the dads get to do that the moms don't?


We would like to teach you a few easy and fun dance steps to a special tune in the halftime show (I'm Just a Gigolo) and you will also present the big American Flag in the pregame show.

They get to present a big American flag and dance to a Gigolo song. If there is anything *more* American than Gigolos, I don't know it! And if there is anything that I'd certainly want to do on Reser Field with my dad if I was in the OSU marching band, it is DEFINITELY dance around to Gigolos!  Why even limit that to Reser Field??  Let's do it this Sunday!

Size/Composition/Marching Style

Wikipedia has the info for us:

Oregon State has a massive band of over 250 members. The Director is Dr. Brad Townsend.

Dr. Brad Townsend is Director of Athletic Bands at Oregon State University. He directs the OSU Marching Band, Basketball Pep Bands, Rhythm and Beavs Pep Band as well as teaches courses in music education.

Dr. Townsend, a native of Somerset, Pennsylvania, holds degrees from The Pennsylvania State University and The University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign. He has had a wealth of experience as a band director at both the public school level as well as the College level. Previous to his appointment at OSU he taught at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, and Iroquois High School in Erie, Pennsylvania.

It is good to have a Doctor as your band instructor.  Many times in the Cal band, there would be an injury, like a strained high step or a broken grapevine, but nobody around to provide immediate medical care.  Can Dr. Brad Townsend moonlight as the Cal Band's EMT on Cal-OSU gamedays?

The instrumentation is as follows:


Flute / Piccolo Flute
Alto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone

Again with the euphonium. WSU had an euphonium. What is that dastardly instrument?  AndyPanda indicates that the Euphonium is more for Symphony than the marching band.  But that would mean there is an accuracy on Wikipedia, which would be shocking.  Thus, Euphoniums must be used by the marching band.  Otherwise, Wikipedia would be, on some level, wrong and my entire plan for selling papers to high school students would end disastrously!  

Percussion is not fully defined, but I presume it is the standard snare, tenor, bass, cymbals set up that we love so much. Or maybe euphonium is percussion. I have no evidence that it is NOT part of the percussion!

Also, they apparently have a featured twirler. Just like UDub. And not any featured twirler, but an EXTREMEEEEEEEEEEEEEE FEATURED TWIRLER!

The current Feature Twirler is junior Kailey Taylor. This is her third year as Feature Twirler. She normally uses three batons for each performance such as pregame and halftime. She has done preferences with not only her normal batons but even ones that were set on fire.

That's actually pretty cool.  I really want to see this featured twirler with the fire batons!  I bet they have some sweet shots of this EXTREME FEATURED TWIRLER with the fire batons.  Plus, if a horde of orcs attack the marching band, those fire batons will come in handy!

Do they have backup twirlers? Non-featured twirlers? How do I become a backup twirler?


Popular Tunes

Hail to The Old OSU is one of their fight songs.

Here are the lyrics:

Here we come with a toast and song for the college up on the hill.
We love her shady slopes and trees its mem'ries cheer and thrill
But fondest thoughts when the years have run,
Will be of teams and vict'ries won,
Each man (one) a loyal son
Hail! to old OSU
OSU our hats are off to you
Beavers, Beavers, fighters through and through,
We'll cheer for every man, (or, "We'll cheer throughout the land,")
We'll root for every stand, (or, "We'll root for every plan,")
That's made for old OSU.
Watch our team go tearing down the field,
Men (those) of iron their strength will never yield,
Hail, hail, hail, hail,
Hail to old OSU.

The Wiki article states:

The lyrics have been slightly altered since being written "to conform to a changing culture".

I presume the original lyrics had a whole stanza about how people of difference races shouldn't marry. It was pre-Loving v. Virginia after all.

Here is a Youtube video claiming to be the OSU fight Song:

I am not sure which fight song it is and the opening sounds like you just defeated Bowser to win the Princesses heart. I actually spent like 10 minutes trying to determine which fight song this is (besides Hail To Old OSU, another one appears to be Carry Me Back To OSU), but nobody is making this easy on me. Why are you making me do work Oregon State University Marching Band? This isn't make me *less* likely to mock you!  Truth be told, however, I really do like that fight song. Throw in a video game opening and I'll love any fight song!

Here is a pregame.  Great stuff.  I really love watching pregame shows of other bands.  It is one of the best differences between the college and the pro game.  It's the quintessential difference, really!

AndyPanda tells us:

Every pregame show is different, but all include "Hail to OSU", "Rock and Roll", and the spellout, and are about as long as a halftime show, sometimes even longer. In recent years, Oregon St. has had a pattern of fast starts, and Coach Mike Riley has repeatedly credited the energy level in the stadium that gets created.

You'll know "Rock And Roll" as the "Hey" song written by convicted child molester Gary Glitter. Well, you might not have known about that last part.

If OSU's fast starts are due to the OSUMB, does that mean that every year when OSU loses to a few tough OOC teams, it is the bands fault?

Here is another pre-game.

Here is the OSUMB doing what I can only assume is the 8,045th time that a marching band has performed Thriller:

It works, though.  That is why that song is done over and over again.  I remember when we did it back in 2001.  Very popular and it gets the fans dancing in the stands.  Or, in the case of Memorial Stadium in 2001, the fan dancing in the stands.

And here is an OSUMB pep band member showing the standard Beaver mating call. Ladies, he's single!!!!! Or so I completely assume.


Why The Cal Band Is Superior

Because, oh, I dunno, we have actual Cal students in our band.  You don't even have to be a OSU student to be in the OSU band:

Who is eligible?

Any Oregon State University or Linn Benton Community College student.
Students may be enrolled in any school or college of the University.

Linn Benton Community College is a school in a small Oregon town called Lebanon near Corvallis.

Now, here is the thing. You can go to Linn Benton Community College and be in the OSU marching band, right? So, it shouldn't be the OSU Marching Band. It should be the OSU-Linn Benton Community College Marching Band. Am I wrong to demand accuracy in advertising? Has anybody contacted the dads about this? They'll know what to do!

Also, the Cal marching band doesn't have a euphonium.  I'm concerned about any band that has any instrument without definition.  It might not exist.  It might be a terrorist plot of some sort.  I have no evidence before me that the euphonium isn't a terrorist plot!  


oskisunbear - We had been in contact with their band and they invited us to their party postgame.... 40 blocks from our hotel. A group of 7 of us decided to walk. It was dumb. I brought 4 drinks in my pockets and had one every 10 blocks until I made the party. After finally finding it, we were only there for about a half hour before the cops broke it up. We followed a snare player to his house another few blocks away, where we got our asses handed to us on a beerpong table handpainted like Reser. I don't remember how I got back to the hotel.


Goldblooded - I can understand why someone from OSU might not get the jokes in the above post. My experience with their band members comes from hanging out with their trombone/mutant section (briefly) after they came to visit us at Memorial in 2005. We were joking around politely and trying to break the ice (as is any good band nerd's function at a social gathering of losers) and they would not bite on anything. Not out of unwillingness to do so, but I believe out of inability. These guys were not on the same level, friendly-wise.

Soon, we began to grow fearful, then quiet in their hotel room (as we, ans especially me, are afraid of silence), so they suggested that we go out for root beer floats. This may not strike many of you dear readers as odd. But it is FACT that bands go drinking together, to bond, to complain, to reminisce, and to put the differences on the gridiron aside(we won handily earlier that day, both in football and band-ing), especially when one band is traveling, and doubly especially when both bands are traveling (more on that later). This proposition frightened us, as we had learned from our oldmen that drinking is living. A return to the days of pre-drinking? These people are absurd, and not in the fun way that we are.

This should have been my second clue that these guys and gals were not like us. The first, of course, was the obvious age difference in some of the members. 30's easily. And I'm not talking "grad-student-reliving-the-

experience-over-30" as the Cal Band has been known to occasionally incorporate, but "why-are-these-old-dads-in-a-marching-band-over-30" types. That, and imagining them wearing their Incredibles/Power Ranger-style gloves while sitting on a hotel bed just made my head spin. For some reason I did not attend this get-together with root beer floats, but I did meet up with some OSU types later that year at the Pac-10 tourney (when all bands but the LA ones are traveling...I told you I'd bring it back!)

Needless to say, Pac-10 was a fantastic time for all in attendance. Here, we battled against the OSU bandies in a game of Chandeliers, which was rudely interrupted by a certain Cal Spirit individual claiming that they could easily beat us at any drinking game. I can embellish more but it's too hilarious. Long story short, I was weirded out by the old dads in the OSU band before I realized that some of them were normal alcoholic megalomaniacs, like all college students. Plus, the OSU band has the advantage of being way less boring than its in-state rival's band. And they have good baseball colors. Go O's!

PaleoDan -  I grew up 20 minutes east of Corvallis. Oregon State is in my towns blood. 80% of the people from my high school that go to college go to OSU. My high school band would go to all the events the Oregon State Marching Band organized. Before I came to Cal, the OSUMB was my expectation of what a college marching band was like. I can't bad mouth OSUMB too much because a lot of good friends were in that band. But...

The OSUMB is small. There is so few people willing to do marching band at OSU that they have to go to the local community college, LBCC, to get more musicians. I'm guessing Twist is going to write about this, but one the main reasons OSUMB is small is that Oregon State is the engineering and science school in Oregon. If a high school band kid wants to be a musician, they go to UofO.

I liked the OSUMB when I was in high school, but I didn't know any better. They are run by a director in the high school way--he chooses the music and the show, he runs rehearsal, he gives grades. Oh yeah, OSUMB members get college credit. They only do two or three shows a year. Their drum line has tonal bass drums (ugh). Very high school. Very boring. 

The OSUMB was very good at the band exhibitions I went to, but at an actual football game they are an afterthought. They get no respect. The crowd flees the stands when they are performing. OSU fans start talking louder to be heard over the band. It's embarrassing. I don't think the lumberjacks and farmers (joking!) that make up an OSU football audience are interested in listening to marching band music.

I don't know what to say about partying with the OSUMB. It's like going back to my people. Everybody likes standing around drinking excessive amounts of beer. At the few Cal/OSU band parties I went to in Corvallis, the Cal Band members were the life of the party. I think we scared them with our wild ways.

I know you will finish this article with how the Cal Band is better than OSUMB. And the answer is: "In every way possible."