A 10 year tradition, the OSU Bar Band brings the sound of the university to the community
The night is wild with laughter and song. It’s chaos, like a crowd about to turn into a riot.
“That was awesome!” “Did you see that?” “What song are we doing next?” “Let’s do Beer Barrel.” “No, let’s do something rock n’ roll!”
A single voice cries out above the rest, and everyone goes silent. “Alright, let’s get in line. Drums up front.” Everyone moves into position. “You guys ready? Let’s do this!”
The doors fly open. There is only the rhythm of the drums. Everyone begins to chant, “O… S… U…O… S… U… O… S… U!” One by one the band members march through autumn leaves and spilled drinks. They stop and turn around. Now the whole band is playing, and the crowd roars with excitement as they scramble to pull out their phones.
This is the Oregon State University Marching band playing the Fight Song. No, they are not marching out under the stadium lights onto the football field. Tonight, they are marching into Tom’s Peacock Bar & Grill.
The OSU marching band goes to downtown Corvallis every night before home football games and becomes Bar Band, performing at various bars and restaurants to get people pumped up for the game.
The tradition started roughly 10 years ago when Brad Townsend, former director of athletics band, brought the idea to OSU. Other schools do similar performances; University of Washington’s marching band plays in front of fraternity houses before game days and Notre Dame’s band plays in the school library.
The night before home games, the band piles into a truck around 8:45 p.m. and heads downtown and performs until about 10 p.m. In that time, the band makes 14 to 16 stops at different locations, and plays two tunes if not more at each stop; the OSU fight song and one additional song. They then exit
doing the OSU chant.
A lot of preparation goes into this event. The band has to get permission from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission because some members of the band are minors and they are entering bars. They have to contact Corvallis Police to get a sound permit issued and they have to contact the businesses to make sure it is OK to play.
On Oct. 7, the band played at Tommy’s 4th Street Bar & Grill, Flattail Brewery, Downward Dog, Cloud & Kelley’s, Big River, 101, Sky High, Squirrels, Tom’s Peacock, American Dream, Crowbar, Block 15, Caves and even Safeway.
According to David Manela, staff assistant to the marching band, the businesses encourage the band to come play at their establishments.
“Most of them actually get mad if we don’t show up because it’s become such a
big thing,” Manela said.
Crowbar bartender Amanda Chadderdon makes sure she works every Friday night so she doesn’t miss the Bar Band coming in.
“I love it when they come in, everything stops,” Chadderdon said. “No one gets drinks, everyone just parties for a solid minute while the band is here.”
The marching band gets permission over the summer once they find out the team’s schedule. In the 10 years that they have been doing Bar Band, they have never
been denied, Manela said.
Bar Band is a huge commitment to band members. Before they do Bar Band, they have regular band practice which goes for roughly two and half hours. Then on game day, they all meet up again five hours before kickoff to go through a final run through.
“It’s a lot of fun, but I have game tomorrow,” said sophomore Erick Teran. “I’ve been playing music for like almost six hours straight tonight.” Teran is a part of the drumline and participated in Bar Band for the first time on Oct. 7.
The band has over 260 members on roster, and Bar Band usually has around 30 members participate each time. Everyone who participates volunteers for the activity, rotating each week so other band mates can participate.
“We gotta spread the love around,” said band member Matthew Buss. Buss has been with the band for four years and participates in the Bar Band at least a couple of times a year.
Customers at the various restaurants were thrilled to see the Bar Band come in and play on Oct. 7. As soon as the band marched through the doors, most people were scrambling to pull out their phones to record the performance and take selfies with the band
Cal fans Peter and Helen Worstell, whose son Patrick plays wide receiver for Cal, got to experience the Bar Band firsthand at Block 15.
“Such a good surprise, I actually got up on my chair and started recording,” Helen said.
The Bar Band’s next performance is Oct. 28 before the Beavers take on Washington State.