See The Ohio State Marching Band’s Brilliant Tribute To Sgt. Pepper’s 50th Anniversary

The college football marching band has got to be one of the most entertaining American art forms ever invented. You’ve got to be a real hard-ass not to have your spirits lifted at least a little bit by the old siss-boom-bah. There is something innately hilarious happening when you combine the marching band’s corny formality with its typically raggedy execution. I am still tickled every time I hear one play “Seven Nation Army” as a fight song, to me it’s ironic and funny and the joke never grows old.

And it’s not just about the music, it can be a compelling spectacle too. Who isn’t intrigued by trying to anticipate what formations they are trying to make on the field? Who isn’t amazed that these marching band members of all shapes and sizes can run these incredibly complex patterns without running into each other? To me it almost always adds up to an entertainment experience that puts a smile on my face, especially with a few ball game refreshments under my belt.

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But this takes the cake, one of the greatest halftime marching band performances I’ve ever seen. Last weekend the Ohio State Marching Band celebrated the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and it is a must-see performance for any Beatles fan. The band did an amazing job navigating some of the difficult chords in these songs, including the title track, “With A Little Help From My Friends”, “Yellow Submarine”, and “When I’m Sixty-Four”. The standouts for me were “Getting Better” and “Penny Lane”, and I’d have to say it is a wonderfully surreal experience watching a marching band perform “A Day In The Life”.

The on-field formations were as hilarious as they were awe-inspiring. An LP coming out of a Sgt. Pepper sleeve and then spinning was a brilliant touch, but the kicker was four stick figures walking in a line à la the Abbey Road cover, and then actually moving, a little chaotically but still impressively. Overall, what a performance, it packed a lot of fun into nine minutes. The Beatles’ people were so impressed they posted it on their Facebook page. It’s one art form the Brits themselves will never be able to match.


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