Cal Band at Stanford Game

"It's Saturday morning, Bears." That's what I always say to the Band before a home game, and I had a pretty good feeling heading into this Big Game that we would feel right at home. Not to mention that I was grateful for a nonstop week of craziness.

Thank goodness I was right.

Before Big Game, there is, of course, Big Game Week, which in Band terms means "no sleep, going everywhere humanly possible in the Bay Area, and free food."

From Walnut Creek to San Francisco, from San Jose to Orinda, the Band was once again trying to miraculously balance its checkbook while spreading Cal Spirit. (Who knew buses were that expensive?)

Thanks for supporting us, though, really. We couldn't have done it without all of you nice people who donate enough to keep us going, letting us serve the University with all of our hearts. (I even got Sandy Barbour to sign my Straw Hat for one of the gigs!)

It was nine in the morning when the Band left for Palo Alto, that mystical in-between place where all the buildings look the same and the landscape was flat, and there were creatures in red and white roaming the whole place that resembled something along the lines of a dairy farm.

That's when I realized we were there - when I looked outside my window and saw a little stubby building, but everyone who was wearing red was calling it a "tower." A tower? You ought to go to Berkeley, man. There's a real tower there. The tallest one in North America, actually.

It was hot. Rehearsing on a turf field in Berkeley is at least nice, what with the fog and the cool morning air. At Stanfurd campus it was miserable, and at the end of rehearsal (after marching on a turf field for hours), all of our shiny black shoes looked as if we were stepping on Oscar the Grouch the whole day.

Now I've been told many times, also, that in comparison to the Leland Stanfurd Junior College ... er, University Marching Band, that we are just that much better. I'm not going to disagree, I mean, we are, but I guess they deserve a little something for the antics that they do and still getting to "perform" in front of a "home crowd." Rehearsing with them is a bit of an experience.

Let's take, for example, the national anthem. At Memorial Stadium you see the Cal Band in perfect diagonals spread across the field, the strains of our patriotic song lilting gloriously over every Cal fan, and every Cal fan shouting "UC!" and "Blue!" at just the right moments.

Everyone cheers, it's great. It's just how we rehearse it. But the Star Spangled Banner at the past two Big Games at The Farm have been quite different.

Rehearsal. You'd expect a bunch of us to pay attention and listen closely, but that's out of the window from the get-go. As soon as we arrive to rehearse with the LSJUMB, they start playing a song without any cues from their directors. It's loud, it's rowdy. Then someone manages to shut them up, and then, as you may have heard, a solo trumpet plays the first verses of the national anthem.

During this time, a group of Stanfurd Banned members will do many things to this solo trumpeter. The first time I was at Stanfurd they made cookie dough on the trumpeter's head (complete with fresh eggs and milk!), and this time, they boxed the poor guy up with stink bombs.

And I thought being in the Cal Band was tough.

And so the afternoon went, tailgate after tailgate. Then it was the moment of truth: pregame. I saw the largest crowd ever for a pregame performance, confirming, of course, that this place soon would be Bear Territory.

There's a funny tradition in the Band concerning pregame. Every year, around November, the Band starts to practice pregame faster and faster and faster. Watch it sometime and compare our first pregame to our last. We manage to shave off about two minutes' time in three months. Big Game, however, has its own monster: "Big Game Tempo."

If you look closely at the Stanfurd PA program, you'll see that the Band is allotted four minutes of performance time for pregame. This includes getting on and off the field, performing our set, and setting up beforehand. The adrenaline is rushing, the freshmen's stomachs churn ever so slightly, and even the seniors are affected a bit by this bittersweet moment. One more, Bears, we think, one more and we go bowling.

The whistle blows. The four minutes rush past us as our fans rally behind and yell "Gr-r-r-r-r-r-ah!" There's sweat, there's the warm afternoon air (does it ever get cooler in Palo Alto?), there's the Stanfurd fans.

We're breathing heavily now, all off the sideline after our most intense Big Game tempo performance yet. I look to our Director, Bob, and see him smiling. I ask him why he's smiling so big.

"3:25," he says. "I've never been on that side of 3:30 in my life."

Relief washes over our faces. It's like we just heard all over again that Levy was going to quarterback.

Not to mention that Stanfurd's fans really didn't cheer much, if at all, for their Band. Hallelujah, Stanfurd sucks.

Then it was halftime.

There was a great roaring cheer as we went on the field.

We danced, we rocked, we played our hearts out. (And if you really wanted to know where I was on the field, I was the guy who threw my white cap at the end of the show.)

It was the most amazing student section response I have ever heard. Usually they just yell "Cal Band Great!" really loudly, but this time, it was more than that. It was just as loud, but it wasn't just yelling ... it was chanting. "Cal Band Great! Cal Band Great!..." It seemed as if it went for hours.

It was the best way to cap off four years with the Band.

And when all was said and done, Cal prevailed and kept the axe four years in a row, the first time since 1939, during Andy Smith's "Wonder Teams." I'm proud to say that I'm part of the class that helped make sure the Stanfurd's class of 2006 never saw a Big Game win, let alone touch the axe.

After the game, my friend John Christian said something about Levy that made me chuckle all the way home: "That guy's frisky. He's got the ball, he's running, he's passing, he's making good plays. He's frisky."

Maybe we can call this group of Californians "the Frisky Team."

Miguel de Leon is the Public Relations Director for the Cal Band. If you'd like information regarding supporting the Band, buying CDs, or just wanted a friend to talk to, feel free to drop him a line at prd@calband.berkeley.edu or (510) 642-6704. He'll tell you in even more depth why Stanfurd sucks.


©Copyright 2005, BearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this active online Cal community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Scout.com network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.


BearTerritory.net Top Stories

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Thank goodness I was right.

Before Big Game, there is, of course, Big Game Week, which in Band terms means \"no sleep, going everywhere humanly possible in the Bay Area, and free food.\"

From Walnut Creek to San Francisco, from San Jose to Orinda, the Band was once again trying to miraculously balance its checkbook while spreading Cal Spirit. (Who knew buses were that expensive?)

Thanks for supporting us, though, really. We couldn't have done it without all of you nice people who donate enough to keep us going, letting us serve the University with all of our hearts. (I even got Sandy Barbour to sign my Straw Hat for one of the gigs!)

It was nine in the morning when the Band left for Palo Alto, that mystical in-between place where all the buildings look the same and the landscape was flat, and there were creatures in red and white roaming the whole place that resembled something along the lines of a dairy farm.

That's when I realized we were there - when I looked outside my window and saw a little stubby building, but everyone who was wearing red was calling it a \"tower.\" A tower? You ought to go to Berkeley, man. There's a real tower there. The tallest one in North America, actually.

It was hot. Rehearsing on a turf field in Berkeley is at least nice, what with the fog and the cool morning air. At Stanfurd campus it was miserable, and at the end of rehearsal (after marching on a turf field for hours), all of our shiny black shoes looked as if we were stepping on Oscar the Grouch the whole day.

Now I've been told many times, also, that in comparison to the Leland Stanfurd Junior College ... er, University Marching Band, that we are just that much better. I'm not going to disagree, I mean, we are, but I guess they deserve a little something for the antics that they do and still getting to \"perform\" in front of a \"home crowd.\" Rehearsing with them is a bit of an experience.

Let's take, for example, the national anthem. At Memorial Stadium you see the Cal Band in perfect diagonals spread across the field, the strains of our patriotic song lilting gloriously over every Cal fan, and every Cal fan shouting \"UC!\" and \"Blue!\" at just the right moments.

Everyone cheers, it's great. It's just how we rehearse it. But the Star Spangled Banner at the past two Big Games at The Farm have been quite different.

Rehearsal. You'd expect a bunch of us to pay attention and listen closely, but that's out of the window from the get-go. As soon as we arrive to rehearse with the LSJUMB, they start playing a song without any cues from their directors. It's loud, it's rowdy. Then someone manages to shut them up, and then, as you may have heard, a solo trumpet plays the first verses of the national anthem.

During this time, a group of Stanfurd Banned members will do many things to this solo trumpeter. The first time I was at Stanfurd they made cookie dough on the trumpeter's head (complete with fresh eggs and milk!), and this time, they boxed the poor guy up with stink bombs.

And I thought being in the Cal Band was tough.

And so the afternoon went, tailgate after tailgate. Then it was the moment of truth: pregame. I saw the largest crowd ever for a pregame performance, confirming, of course, that this place soon would be Bear Territory.

There's a funny tradition in the Band concerning pregame. Every year, around November, the Band starts to practice pregame faster and faster and faster. Watch it sometime and compare our first pregame to our last. We manage to shave off about two minutes' time in three months. Big Game, however, has its own monster: \"Big Game Tempo.\"

If you look closely at the Stanfurd PA program, you'll see that the Band is allotted four minutes of performance time for pregame. This includes getting on and off the field, performing our set, and setting up beforehand. The adrenaline is rushing, the freshmen's stomachs churn ever so slightly, and even the seniors are affected a bit by this bittersweet moment. One more, Bears, we think, one more and we go bowling.

The whistle blows. The four minutes rush past us as our fans rally behind and yell \"Gr-r-r-r-r-r-ah!\" There's sweat, there's the warm afternoon air (does it ever get cooler in Palo Alto?), there's the Stanfurd fans.

We're breathing heavily now, all off the sideline after our most intense Big Game tempo performance yet. I look to our Director, Bob, and see him smiling. I ask him why he's smiling so big.

\"3:25,\" he says. \"I've never been on that side of 3:30 in my life.\"

Relief washes over our faces. It's like we just heard all over again that Levy was going to quarterback.

Not to mention that Stanfurd's fans really didn't cheer much, if at all, for their Band. Hallelujah, Stanfurd sucks.

Then it was halftime.

There was a great roaring cheer as we went on the field.

We danced, we rocked, we played our hearts out. (And if you really wanted to know where I was on the field, I was the guy who threw my white cap at the end of the show.)

It was the most amazing student section response I have ever heard. Usually they just yell \"Cal Band Great!\" really loudly, but this time, it was more than that. It was just as loud, but it wasn't just yelling ... it was chanting. \"Cal Band Great! Cal Band Great!...\" It seemed as if it went for hours.

It was the best way to cap off four years with the Band.

And when all was said and done, Cal prevailed and kept the axe four years in a row, the first time since 1939, during Andy Smith's \"Wonder Teams.\" I'm proud to say that I'm part of the class that helped make sure the Stanfurd's class of 2006 never saw a Big Game win, let alone touch the axe.

After the game, my friend John Christian said something about Levy that made me chuckle all the way home: \"That guy's frisky. He's got the ball, he's running, he's passing, he's making good plays. He's frisky.\"

Maybe we can call this group of Californians \"the Frisky Team.\"

Miguel de Leon is the Public Relations Director for the Cal Band. If you'd like information regarding supporting the Band, buying CDs, or just wanted a friend to talk to, feel free to drop him a line at prd@calband.berkeley.edu or (510) 642-6704. He'll tell you in even more depth why Stanfurd sucks.


©Copyright 2005, BearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this active online Cal community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Scout.com network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.

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