Michigan fans young and old take pride in the marching band. This year, though, officials threw tradition to the wind and decided to give the band a break. That’s right, Michigan has finally jumped on the “canned” music bandwagon.
Do you like the new beats at the Big House?
For the first time ever, the Big House is playing popular music over the public address system during some breaks in game play.
Mark Riordan, the assistant athletic director for marketing, said the Athletic Department spent a lot of time during the off-season discussing new ways it could enrich the game day experience.
“All of our peers play music,” he said. “We were pretty much the last school in our stature to do this.”
In a press conference on Monday, head football coach Rich Rodriguez said anything that creates a more interactive and lively experience in the stadium is fine by him.
“The best experience is if we’re playing well and winning,” he said. “But you notice how long these TV timeouts are? Oh, it’s brutal. So with all that dead time that you have with the TV timeouts, if there’s a way that you can use the band, and the student section, and the crowd and music and get everybody into the game so they enjoy the experience and come back whether you win or lose, that’s a positive thing.”
The Athletic Department hopes to play music that Michigan fans can relate to.
Riordan said the Athletic Department want to play songs applicable to the Michigan experience and also avoid songs already claimed by other schools.
“Lose Yourself” by Eminem and “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes have been played because of the both artists’ connection to Detroit.
So far, Riordan said, feedback has been mixed, though it has been “more favorable than unfavorable both weeks.”
“I think it’s a really good thing except when they play songs played in other team’s stadiums,” said LSA senior Noah Weber. “I think ‘Lose Yourself’ is an awesome choice but they need to use [canned music] wisely.”
Weber said the techno hit “Zombie Nation” by Kernkraft 400, which was used in both games this year at the Big House, had long been a favorite in Beaver Stadium at Penn State University, and thus should be avoided.
Business senior Jason Javer likes the addition too.
“I think the music is really positive and adds a good atmosphere,” he said. “Because it’s such a big stadium, it really brings everyone together.”
Junior safety Troy Woolfolk said in Monday’s press conference that he didn’t particularly like the music.
“I don’t like none of the music, but I have a tendency to dance some of the time, so regardless of what it is, I’m going to dance to it,” he said.
When asked what songs he would prefer to hear instead of the music currently played at the Big House, Woolfolk had a few suggestions.
“See, I’m from Texas, and y’all might not really know the type of music that we listen to down there,” he said. “There’s this one song called ‘Stanky Leg.’ Yeah, I know. And that gets me into my groove.”
As for the canned music’s relationship with the band, Riordan said the Athletic Department is not “trying to take away anything from the Michigan Marching Band.”
However, a marching band member who didn’t feel authorized to speak on the subject and requested anonymity, told the Daily that the band resents the pumped-in music.
“I appreciate where the players are coming from in that it can help motivate them,” the band member said, “but when you have one of the best marching bands sitting there waiting to play, at times it’s somewhat disappointing to hear music coming over the loudspeakers.”
Riordan said the band shouldn’t feel edged out, since the canned music is only played in short clips.
How much canned music is played and when it’s played depends upon each individual game.
“Ideally we want to play right before the team comes out of the tunnel, when the band is not playing,” Riordan said. “We don’t have any set spots, we are really just trying to go with the flow and feel what the crowd is like at the time and play what’s appropriate.”
“It’s nicely intermixed with cheering,” said LSA senior Natalie Wengroff.
LSA senior Adam Lynn speculated the change could work in the Wolverines’ favor on the field when they need it most.
“It’s a home field advantage to get the crowd rallied up like that,” he said. “I think it will be the deciding factor for us against Ohio State.”
—Daily Sports Editor Ruth Lincoln and Daily News Editor Matt Aaronson contributed to this report.