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Controversy!Excessive CelebrationNCAA Football

Another New Year’s Day Ruined! Stanford Band Angers Old, Boring People At Rose Bowl


It’s a tradition almost as old as college football itself: The Stanford Band flaunts tradition with zany halftime antics, causing stodgy, militaristic fusspots with onions on their belts to froth at the mouth and type angry words onto the Internet. Why, Stanford Band? Why must you tear at the very fabric of society?

For the record, there are only two college marching bands that I enjoy: Stanford’s, and Ohio State’s. All others are stuck in the mid-1960s, and remind me of any given scene from “Babes In Toyland”, only with more outdated music. Stanford gives the finger to all of that lock-step convention, and that’s kind of amazing, considering that it’s Stanford — home of Condoleezza Rice and Herbert Hoover.

Make no mistake: many people really, really hate the Stanford band. Why spend all that energy on loathing a marching band? My theory is because there is hardly a college out there which hasn’t been lampooned by them. And the Stanford Band doesn’t gently nudge you in the ribs … they often go for the throat. Folks from other colleges don’t like that. They are Hawkeye Pierce to every other university’s Frank Burns. Example from the Rose Bowl, as the Stanford Band gives it to Michigan State:

Among other highlights from the Stanford Band’s Rose Bowl effort (with disparaging comments interspersed):


  • kl

    No, actually it doesn’t anger just old boring people. It’s just embarrassing to watch. If they played well and could make decent-looking formations it’d be cute and funny. But they sound terrible, they look awful and they’re a disorganized mess so all attempts to be unique and controversial just come off as juvenile, idiotic and messy.

  • Anonymous

    You have convinced me to hate the Stanford band as well – and I hadn’t given them much thought before.

  • Rick Chandler

    Excellent. No one should be on the fence with this important issue.

  • JP

    The reasons you think people dislike the Stanford band isn’t because of their antics (in fact, I actually enjoy their antics), but the biggest embarrassment is their musical quality. If they could be zany, silly, and outrageous but sound GOOD, it would be awesome. Instead, we get a messy pile of drunken sludge that is a musical abortion.

  • Seahawk

    He’s serious.

  • Tiberius Cozz

    MSU alum here. My first reaction to the Stanford band was “What a dumb looking band-can’t form straight lines, dressed funny, and just plain silly.” I then realized that, at some level, their individuality, creativity, and unconventionality was probably threatening to me at some level. But that’s my problem, not theirs, and perhaps I can do myself a favor by focusing less on Stanford’s band and more on my own issues. So for all those people hating on Stanford’s band, ask yourself: “What do they have that I don’t have that I want to have but find threatening?”

  • Turthteller

    The uniqueness of the Stanford band is not an issue – be creative, be on the edge, be wild – BUT also be GOOD. They are horrible. Blind people hate the Stanford band. Because they suck. Formations and antics can’t save them from their total lack of skill.

  • Anonymous

    Stanford is a HORRIBLE band. They used to at least be funny – but now the joke is old and outdated, and they just look very old-fashioned, like something out of the ’70s. No one gets the unfunny jokes, which are so arcane and “inside” that they need to be explained – which means they AREN’T FUNNY. The announcer dialogue is insipid and boring. And if the worst dig you can give to Michigan State is a burning couch (ancient joke, and not even very hilarious the first time around) you need to go back to comedy school – that was just weak. The Stanford band shtick used to be creative and sometimes even jaw-droppingly, subversively hilarious – but it hasn’t been that way in a long, long time.

    And on top of that, their current sound is excruciating. I was there at the Rose Bowl and heard it in person, and was disappointed: out-of-tune trumpets, blaring and fracking low brass, snares so loose you could tie them around that stupid dancing tree.

    The Stanford band is an embarrassment to an otherwise great university. Not because they’re supposedly iconoclastic and clever, but because they are so NOT.

    And by the way, this writer thinks Ohio State’s band is superb and is not “stuck in the ’60s”? OSU is superb because they ARE stuck in the ’60s (or the ’50s), still doing the moving stick figures and patterns that were invented back then. But you know what – they do them with style and precision and panache, and that makes the OSU band great. They haven’t progressed, and they are proud of their old-school ways, but they do what they do very well.

    The best band in the country is the Michigan State marching band. Not only do they move with precision, incorporate the most progressive new band and corps techniques, and are probably the best-drilled and -charted band in the nation, but they are superbly tuned and have the finest ensemble sound in the university band world today. Notice that the MSU Band does not have any clarinets or flutes – the only reeds are tenor and alto saxes, and the clarinet and flute parts are taken over by brasses, making their sound much bigger. They were such a class act in the Rose Bowl.


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