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Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Band Nerd's Life for Me

If you're a long follower of this blog, you know I was a former Marching Band nerd from yesteryear.  A lot of my old High School classmates are now band directors, so I get to live semi-vicariously through them.

And through my wife's half-brother, who plays snare at his High School band.

This last Saturday was the Mountain West Marching Band Invitational at ISU.  I have never been to Idaho State's campus, and I haven't seen a good band competition in ages (other than DCI online and in theaters) so we tagged along.

Bro's band was in the AA division.  Meaning they're not the worst, but they're not the best either.  We arrived in time to see one band perform before they did.

The Flute section made up about 1/3 of the musicians on the field, and I could see this was going to be a loooong show.

Not only did I want to watch Bro's band perform, but I wanted to stick around for the Open Class (top-tier) bands as well as ISU's exhibition performance.

College bands are usually hot shit, and I wanted to see what this region had to offer.

The flute corps did their thing, and then Bro's band came on.  It's a small group, in a small town, so they looked thin on the field.

Most band directors in High School either focus on marching season or concert season (the good ones can balance both) and their director is definitely a 'concert' type.  Very artsy show, and you couldn't follow along with the music - even if you were a fellow musician.

But they did well.  I saw a 'parents performance' earlier in the season and they were much better than they were a few short months ago.

They were the last in their division to perform.  Next were the AAA bands.

And WOW, you could definitely tell the difference between a AA band and a AAA band.

The AAA and Open Class bands had more recognizable music.

And more visuals.  Their band directors definitely watched a few DCI shows in their day...

Dancing, singing, choreography... now we're talking.

The last two (and top two) bands of the day played a mix of Soul music, and a tribute to The Beatles.  Both had the audience roaring, and both did rather well.

And then ISU came on.

Small group, all bravado.  They came on to the field, high-stepping and screaming.  When they began to play, they played "manly hairy-balls" versions of Carmina Burana, Pictures at an Exhibition, 1812 Overture and William Tell.  Fan favorites, in a sense.  They blasted through the popular parts of each, blasted through their fight song, and then jammed off the field.

It was definitely a 'rode hard and put away wet' performance.  I felt dirty afterwards, yet somehow satisfied...

After seeing the Idaho shows (and Bozeman, I can't forget about them) I learned a few things:

- Just because some college bands march all piccolos doesn't mean you can get away with that shit in High School.  Middleton HS needs to learn the 'how do you tune 2 piccolo players? Shoot one of them' jokes before next season.

- Speaking of college bands, the ISU trumpet section could use some shooting tuning as well.  My. GOD.

- Either I'm old, or these bands weren't nearly as good as the bands from Southern California I competed against.  They would have all been flattened by bands that couldn't even hold a candle to my old corps...

- And lastly, you can tell what schools were in heavily Mormon areas and which weren't.  The LDS themes were emotions and dimensions and retrospectives, while the more mixed schools played entertaining pieces.

It was still fun though.  Are there any other band nerds out there, past or present?  I'd love to hear some of your stories...
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