Let me start out by saying that I’ve got nothing against DJ A-Minor. He must be a skilled DJ to get the gig for the University of South Carolina home Football games at Williams-Brice Stadium. His real name is Andre Barden, a Charlotte-based DJ, who has worked the Charlotte Hornets home games. This seems to be a new trend sweeping the SEC recently. For example; Sterling L. Henton – “DJ Sterl the Pearl” has been rocking Neyland Stadium for the Tennessee Home Games for several years now.
I guess I’m gonna sound like some crusty old curmudgeon here but I remain unconvinced that a college football game is the proper venue for a DJ. Aside from Richard Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra” and Darude’s “Sandstorm” two pieces of recorded music that have a special place in the Carolina Football tune playbook, I’d rather be listening to the Carolina Band “The Mighty Sound of the Southeast” blast out the Carolina Fight Song, the Alma Mater or one of the many musical riffs that have been part of the soundtrack of the Carolina games as far back as the days when my feet were covered with the chalk of the gridiron on crisp, cool Saturday afternoons.
Watching the game last night, I was struck by how quiet the “Billy Brice” was. True, the Kentucky team was having its way with the Gamecocks and the 80,000 plus home crowd was mostly out of the game. But in past games, you could hear the band playing their hearts out, trying to get the team and the crowd back into the game. To me, there is nothing like a marching band with skin in the game filling the air with horns and drums. To me, there is no dance or house song that has that same electrifying sound. And to DJ A-Minor’s credit, he didn’t try. Very late in the game, the band started to play into the stony silence and Carolina had a rally, too late and too little but it was a rally nonetheless. I don’t think that was a coincidence.
This brings up something else that has been bugging me for a while. The TV Networks covering the games have gotten away from carrying the half time band performances, opting instead for jumping to half time shows out of their New York Studios where they talk about all the other games being played that day. I concede that there is an interest in those other games but I suspect that there is more opportunity to create advertising revenue in those shows rather than committing to a pair of 15 minute band performances. It seems a shame that all of those student musicians hours and hours of practice, getting every note, every turn and every step down with precision is lost to those not in the stadium. I remember what a thrill it was when our band performances were covered on TV. I feel badly that those who have followed in my footsteps across the field don’t have that memory. Not every college band gets to march in the nationally broadcast Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City, the Orange Bowl Parade in Miami or the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. And if they do, it is all block marching, no formations. No real chance to strut your stuff.
Note: I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the SEC network and some of the other ESPN Networks offer the band’s halftime performances on their apps. But that is not quite the same thing.
As I mentioned earlier; the concept of DJs playing at sporting events come from the professional sports venues. The big difference in my mind is the concept of school spirit. Professional sports fans love their teams but not the way high school and college fans do. Somehow it is more personal. So, I really don’t mind DJs at professional sports venues, It’s a cool idea, even if I can’t get into some of the music. But that is another story.
I admit it! I have skin and memories invested in the old school ways at football games. But I also have admiration for DJ A-Minor for taking on a gig where he has to please a crowd of 80,000 with widely diverse tastes in music. I don’t think that I would take that challenge. To all my fellow marching band curmudgeons I say, “The only thing constant in this life is change!” So let’s give the guy a chance and see how it all turns out. Who knows, maybe like little Mikey in those old Life Cereal commercials from 1972 through 1984, maybe I’ll like it. Oh MY!