clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Closer Look At The Oregon Marching Band

Getty Images

We're looking at the bands of the Pac-10. We looked previously at Washington, Washington State, and Oregon State.  Today, we look at the Oregon Marching Band.

The #1 thing any person will tell you about the OMB is that no matter how hard the OMB practices and no matter how well they play (and they do play well), nobody cares. Nobody. Nobody watches their shows. It hurts me. Not as a Cal fan, but as a marching band fan.

For some insane reason, Autzen allows ins and outs. So, during halftime the stadium empties into the parking lot, because people might have gotten moderately sober during the first half. THE HORROR! And if they don't immediately chug down a six pack, they might get REALLY sober in the second half. Then, they'd be able to see just how ridiculously ugly those maxi-pads WITH WINGS uniforms really are.

So, while the OMB band is displaying the hard work and dedication out there on the football field, their fans are getting wasted out in the parking lot. Even if the OMB was the worst marching band in America (and they aren't), they don't deserve that. Nobody does.

Not even the band entitled "The Wall Of Sound."  That's not a good nickname.  Nobody ever says "Man, I really hope I get a sweet wall of sound soon."  "I'm not enjoying this staircase of sound, do you have a wall of sound nearby?"  But hey, you win some, you lose some. 

After the jump, let's learn more about the Wall Of Sound, the Qrazy Quackers, the Oregon Marching Band!

The #2 thing to remember about the OMB is that they get the same sort of access to Nike that the athletics teams do. Look at how many wacky, crazy uniforms they have:

Like the Oregon football team, the marching band's uniform has many levels of customization by pairing different all-Nike equipment together, such as:


Black athletic pants with a forest green mesh stripe down the sides
"Oregon Marching Band" T-shirt (worn under the long sleeved shirt)
Black, yellow, and green long-sleeve shirt with enlarged "O" across the chest silver, "OMB" down the forearms (worn under the band's vest)
Yellow and black vest. (Either a cold weather and hot weather vest can be worn.)
Black travel jacket with enlarged reflective yellow "O" on the back and silver "OMB" down the forearms
Hats, including a variety of green, yellow and black hats worn during different quarters of the game
Free running shoes with the Nike+ capabilities

The 2003 green helmets that some fans likened to those of Nazi troops are currently being auctioned off to raise money for the band.


Free running shoes? Is that an improper benefit? Somebody call the NCAA! They won't investigate LaMichael James surprisingly going thousands of miles away to a state he had barely been to before for no discernable reason, but they'll definitely go after some running shoes!

What I don't understand is the green helmets. They say "likened to those of Nazi troops," but that isn't really my focus here.

My focus is on the fact that the OMB felt they needed to protect their skulls during performances. What were they doing that required the need for protection? The Cal marching band (and most marching bands) have decorative hats with plumes and stuff like that. Why does the OMB need to protect the heads?

Are they catapulting band members across the field? Is the OMB mating call akin to the ram mating call? Do they run head first into each other over the females of their species? Do they have a "LeGarrette Blount" continuity on march up that can lead to concussions? This all reminds me of this Seinfeld bit:



Unfortunately, no person has ever actually witnessed a OMB show since getting drunk is EPICALLY more important. So, I guess we'll never know. It's probably the mating call thing!

History (i.e. origins)

Nobody seems to know their origins. Not even them:


1908 - University Course Catalogs list a University Band dating back to 1908.

1911 - According to the 1916 Oregana, the University Band began in 1911 with Maurice Hyde as Director.

So, what's it gonna be, OMB? You get started in 1908 or 1911? Get your story straight! Story changing more times than Masoli talking to Chip Kelly.

Why even talk about their history? They can't get their birth correct. How can we trust that any of their other so-called "facts" are accurate? Here are some of the other stuff that they listed in their History section:

1934 - OMB solves Depression-era "roving bands of hobos" problem by accepting all homeless into band, a practice which continues to this day!

1950-1959 - OMB decides to "win the 50s" by being the most emotionally, politically, and sexually repressed organization out there! Men no longer allowed to make direct eye contact with women. All communists thrown out of band and forced to provide services as Personal Assistants To Hobo King.

1965 - Inspired by Dr. King's Civil Rights Marches, OMB decides to march in solidarity to Montgomery, Alabama

1970 - OMB arrives in Montgomery, Alabama.

1972 - OMB returns to Eugene, saving valuable time by riding the rails back instead of marching. Thanks, Hobo King!

1978 - OMB blows Bill Clinton. One at a time. They aren't just ahead of their time with their uniforms!

1988 - OMB sends dog "Quackgasm" into space. No interest in space exploration or pushing the envelope of science. Merely trying to kill as many dogs as quickly as possible. President Regan awards each marching band member Medal Of Honor individually, inaccurately believing them all to be Nicuaragan Freedom Fighters.

See, this is what I am saying. I'm not sure what I can trust! Does OMB really have a Hobo King? Do many of them have the Medal Of Honor?


Traditions (if known/any)


The biggest OMB tradition there is is, of course, ROBODUCK. They love that delightful robotic duck up there. Nary a day goes by without at least one OMBer dreaming wistfully of his hilarious madcap antics. Don't even think about speaking ill of that rascally robot! They'll beat you up if you even say anything negative about him.

I once said something along the lines of (and I'm paraphrasing here, because, despite popular belief, I don't audiotape everything I say) "Roboduck is not the world's greatest invention ever, including fire, the wheel, and Pee Wee Herman's Playhouse." I was assaulted by 4 separate OMBers. 1 of them got behind me on all fours and then other 3 kept pushing me over him. Then, they'd taunt me screaming "Why so clumsy, stop falling down, stop falling down!" It was so bad LeGarrette Blount and Byron Hout teamed up to hold them back.

So, that is the biggest Oregon tradition out there: ROBODUCK.

Everything else pales in comparison and I'm not even sure I should go forward and discuss them. I guess out of respect for Oregon, I will discuss all the non-Roboduck traditions.

Another tradition is the Festival of Bands:


Festival of Bands
The Festival of Bands (FOB) is an annual high school marching band competition where 30 bands from around the northwest come to compete in the North West Marching Band Circuit. The event is coordinated and run by the students of the Oregon Marching Band. The Festival of Bands is one the top fund raisers for the OMB, raising about $15,000 every year. It is also used as a major recruiting tool for the Oregon Athletic Bands.


I'm concerned regarding this recruiting tool for Oregon Athletics Band. I bet every high school band member from the North West Marching Band circuit gets a free XBOX for attending this Festival Of Bands.

Also, why do they have to raise money? They raise about $15,000 per year, it says. Phil Knight tips a band member about $15,000 when they valet his car. Give the Cal band the $15,000.00! They need the money! OMB needs the money the way the Department of Defense needs the money. Also, both organizations love to wear helmets.


Size/Composition/Marching Style


OK, the instrumentation here is insane:


1+2 Clarinets
1+2 Alto Saxophones
Tenor Saxophones
1+2+3 Trumpets
Mellophones in F
1+2 Trombones
Baritone Horns

[edit] Battery percussion

10 Snare Drums
5 Bass Drums
4-5 Tenor Drums

[edit] Front ensemble

Electric Bass
Bass Drum
Various other percussion instruments


The first section there is fairly standard stuff. Anybody reading these posts will see the same sort of items over and over and over again. It's the last part that is rather random.

Firstly, they have the bass drum twice. One in the percussion section and then another in the "Front ensemble" section. Why so much bass drum, OMB? What are you hiding behind all those bass drums? A fanbase that cares about your folk musical stylings?

Plus, they play "Various other percussion instruments," which, I presume, refers to them drumming on all those sweet SAE laptops they "were given out of free will." Yes. Given. Out of free will.

From Wikipedia:


The Director of Athletic Bands administrates the athletic band program by leading and teaching students, supervising graduate teaching fellows and other assistants, and working with the university and athletic department. This position also serves as an Assistant Director of Bands and Assistant Professor of Instrumental Music Education. The position is held by Dr. Eric Wiltshire, an alumnus of the University of Washington. Along with the athletic bands, Dr. Wiltshire teaches and conducts the Oregon Campus Band.

This is where I get jealous:

Green Garter Band
The Green Garter Band (GGB) is a select group of twelve players that plays at numerous additional events for the University of Oregon.[4] From funk to rock to hip hop, the GGB plays hundreds of high-energy student-arranged songs to entertain the hundreds of thousands they perform to every year. The group has a faculty advisor, the Director of Athletic Bands, but for the most part is entirely run by its student members. The Green Garter Band performs for all UO Women's Volleyball home games, UO Women's Basketball home games, many UO Softball home games and serves as the core unit of the OBB and OMB. Each year, the GGB also gives approximately 20-25 performances at special Athletic Department events, for the UO School of Music and Dance, for the University at large, and at various special events within the community. In return for their large commitment, Green Garter Band members are awarded full in-state scholarships. The demand for the GGB is so high that in 2002 the Yellow Garter Band (YGB) was created to help fulfill the number of requests coming in. The Yellow Garter Band is identical to its Green counterpart in most regards, but has a slightly smaller commitment. In return for their commitment, members of the YGB receive a large book scholarship every term. Together, the Green and Yellow Garter Bands have gained recognition and acclaim on campus, in the community and even nationally.[5]



Full and partial scholarships? To play in the band? Envious!  From Wikimedia, a photo of one of these Garter bands.



Hey! I punched one of the people in that photo in the nuts. Look at that!


Popular Tunes

Their fight song is "Mighty Oregon"


Wikipedia has more info on Mighty Oregon:


"Mighty Oregon" is the fight song for the University of Oregon. It is played by the Oregon Marching Band at home football and basketball games. Director of Bands, Albert Perfect, along with journalism student, DeWitt Gilbert, wrote the fight song, "The Mighty Oregon March", which was first performed on March 4, 1916. For the song's most popular section, Perfect fashioned a new melody to fit into the harmony from It's a Long Way to Tipperary, a hit 1912 World War I march. The catchy popularity of the harmony was not lost on Perfect, a well-educated in music theory, who originally subtitled the song "The Tipperary of the West." Over the years there have been several changes to the lyrics and, today, the middle stanza is generally the only one sung and it is done so using more modern lyrics than the original.[1]


Here they are doing something that the Cal band hasn't done in a long, long, long time. And typing that sentence filled me with rage:

They even have their own promo video, asking the question "Oregon Marching Band, Can You Hear It?"



Unfortunately for the band, many of the Oregon fans would answer "No, I can't hear it over the sound of me getting drunk in a parking lot."

Here is the OMB doing the music of Journey, because each marching band is legally required to do at least 4 Journey songs every halftime show. It's the law! Even the Cal band has to abide by it:

Why The Cal Band Is Superior

Firstly, and most importantly, the Cal Band is superior to the Oregon band, because Cal band members join the Cal band for the love of the marching band. Not for the big money contracts!  Not because some Texas street agent got paid $40,000.00 from the OMB to "provide direction and guidance" to local high school marchers out there. It's just a random coincidence that 65% of the Oregon marching band is from the greater Dallas metropolitan area, eh? Who knew how ridiculously popular the Oregon marching band is in SEC territory!

Another, people care about the Cal marching band. Cal's history of unbelievably horrific football skill, talent, and success has led to a culture of intense marching band-related focus. We might not be like a Grambling State, but for years the marching band was *the* reason to come to games. Most of my time at Cal was spent during the Holmoecaust. I think the teams won 8 games in my first year years at Cal. Now, winning 8 games in a year is just plain disastrous.

So, instead of leaving the stadium to drink, Cal fans stay to enjoy the show. They dance along in the stands. They sing. They cheer. They inspire the band to put together shows that become viral internet hits.

Also, Cal fans can't leave the stadium to drink. But, hey, let's just ignore that!

This isn't too difficult to figure out, really. The Cal Band is superior, because, despite struggling financially compared to the flush Quackers, Cal provides a flat out superior product. Plus, we don't do anything on the field that requires us to provide head protections. We're too smart for that.

Also, finally, and most importantly, we don't sell Genuine 100% Authentic Marching Band Helmets:

I'ma gonna get a VERY WORN!




DM09 - Oregon's marching band we never had much contact with, but I do remember three years ago (after the last second endzone fumble which assured us the win and a #2 ranking going into the infamous Oregon State/Kevin Riley game) that their band formed a circle around us to escort us safely out of Autzen. And honestly if we didn't have them I don't think everyone would have made it out alive, their fans were pissed to say the least. So props to them for having our backs despite losing in a way only Cal fans can commiserate with.

Calnet - I visited Oregon in 2003. I was too distracted by RoboDuck hatching before the game to remember much about the Oregon Marching Band's pregame show. I mostly remember their terrible stormtrooper hats. The Cal Band printed out big Nike swooshes which we briefly attached to our vests in the stands before someone from Oregon made us take them off. After the game, the Oregon band invited us to a pizza parlor. I reconnected with one of my friends from high school honor band. 1999 NCBA All-Northern Honor Band pride, woo! Anyway, I think the Oregon band also invited us to their real party but we couldn't work out the transportation. I did have fun partying with Oregon Basketball Band members at the hotel at the Pac-10 Tournament.


CBKWitOf all the Pac-10 marching bands I've seen (7 of them), Oregon's is by far, unequivocally the worst.  It pains me to write this.  $C's band is such a bunch of assholes and so repetitive, ucla's band is boring and uninspired, and stanfurd's is such a hot mess.  I wish Oregon's band was better than all of them, much less any of them.  But they're not.

I saw Oregon's band perform twice.  The first was in 2003, better known as the "lights" game.  Aaron Rodgers was slicing up the Oregon D, we had the lead...and suddenly the lights went out.  The game was delayed for 20 minutes as we sat there in the dark.  When they finally came back on, Oregon scored twice to come away with the victory.  It was annoying.

We in the Cal Band were not going to let a simple, very familiar thing like losing a football game prevent us from having a good weekend.  I was fascinated by the Oregon band's uniforms, particularly with their design motif which is apparently to stick as many Nike swooshes in as many places as possible.  I think I remember hearing that there are something like 19 of them from head to toe.  Before we departed on the bus for Eugene (which had 1 less seat than we required, forcing me to lie on the aisle floor for part of the trip home), I printed up 50 laminated giant blue and gold swooshes to wear on lanyards around our necks.  My MS Paint skills were evident way back then.Our_swoosh_medium

Of all the parts of the Oregon marching band uniform, my favorite was the helmet.  It perfectly encapsulated the combination of excess, transparent corporate whoring, and bizarre futurism (Viva Roboduck) that is Oregon athletics.  It may be, with the exception of the trojan horsehair helmet, the perfect CBK target, and it became my mission to cbk one at some point during the weekend.  My friend and I scoured the music building on Friday night, but no dice.  We cbked a stool as a consolation prize.

Early Sunday morning, I found myself in a dorm room with a female Oregon band member.  She brought out her helmet.  I touched her.  helmet.  She took pictures of me. wearing my swoosh and her helmet.  When I relayed this story recently, my colleague was surprised that I was not interested in anything besides the helmet.  Looking back on it now, I'm a bit surprised myself.  It didn't even occur to me at the time.  All I wanted was the helmet. 


Inexplicably blurry thanks to 2003 digital camera technology

Some hours later, having nothing to show for our efforts except pictures and a stool, my friend and I decided to take one more stroll through the city of Eugene.  We happened upon a small Italian eatery, with two uo flags protruding from the roof.  They looked like the could use a better home.  I believe my associate, who did the work, still has a scar from a burn he received by bumping his arm on the floodlight.  




I would write more about the Oregon band's performance, but I can barely remember them.  I think they played Alice Cooper's Schools out for Summer a lot, for unknown reason.  I think there was a marimba on the field. 


It was really my second experience watching the Oregon band that cemented them as the worst in the conference.  This was 2005.  The game was played in an absolute deluge.  Our quarterback was Joe Ayoob.  Thanks to Marshawn Lynch's 190 rushing yards (running against Haloti Ngata, no less), we were in the game.  Ayoob's line reads 10-26, 88 yards, 0 tds, 3 interceptions, but it was not all his fault.  Freshman DeSean Jackson had the worst game of his Cal career, dropping 3 or 4 long, surprisingly accurate passes that would have gone for scores or big gains.  He did not catch one pass.

Cal had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Tom Schneider's long field goal clinked off the uprights, sending the game to overtime.  After Oregon scored a touchdown on their first try, Cal was forced to go for it on 4th and long.  David Gray came free and stopped between the hashes, easily 5 yards away from any Oregon defender.  I cannot recall another receiver as wide open as he was, just standing in the middle of the field.  Ayoob threw the ball 10 feet over his head.  Gray would have needed the leaping animation from Techmo Super Bowl to catch that pass.

Oregon students then proceeded to rush the field.  They were the favorite, higher ranked than Cal, with a better record, and Cal had lost 2 out of 3.  Also, Joe Ayoob.  It was one of the more inexplicable field rushings I've ever seen.

But back to the band.  I can't remember their halftime show.  Maybe they didn't do one.  The pregame, however, I'll remember forever.  The band meandered onto the field from all corners of the sidelines.  Meander is being to generous - let's go with randomly wandered.  They proceeded, at a leisurely pace, to form an arc (or a "shell", to us band people) facing one of the sidelines.  They played their fight song.  After they finished the song, the turned around and played the same song to the other half of the stadium.  Once they finished it again, they wandered off the field.

That was it.  We in the Cal band were all stunned, perhaps as stunned as the "Oh my god Oh no" duck fan at the 2007 game, or perhaps as stunned as us Cal fans back in 2009 when we, foolishly, expected our #7 golden bears to put up at least as much of a fight at Autzen as fucking Purdue did.

Perhaps the Oregon band has improved in the last half decade.  I certainly hope so.