Missed You Tube Moments at the Indiana State Fair

Dave, Kent, Kent’s friend Susan and I sweated it out in the stands so we could watch the Indiana State Fair band competition.

It was the year of random themes, bizarre sets, and weak color guard (flag corps) choreography (in Dave’s scoring system, when flag corps work turns into interpretive dance, three points are automatically deducted. If a band has a male in their color guard, they receive an automatic bonus point). I have some ideas about why marching bands have adopted Broadway musical trappings. Most of my theories involve band directors having “Waiting for Guffman” moments. I won’t go into any of them here.

What I will give you is a sampling of the international flavor of the evening:

One band chose to memorialize the Korean War with a medley of Korean folk tunes and an army chopper painted on the back drop. The theme was “never forget,” but are Korean folk songs supposed to jog my memory?

The Anderson Highlanders took top honors (from the “official” judges-I think our pick was Fountain City) with a Christian wedding theme complete with wood panels painted to look like stained glass church windows (a cross in the middle of each one) and a minister standing on an altar performing a marriage between two students (pretend I hope, or that band director will have some explaining to do).

Strangely, none of the music was traditionally marriage related as far as I could tell (was it Scottish wedding music?). The band sounded and looked good (I’m crazy about kilts), but they lost me with the unnecessary drama.  Are band directors being forced to collaborate with their schools’ theater departments to keep funding stable? And call me paranoid, but considering the marriage amendment mess Indiana is working on, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t wonder whether or not there was some not too covert “traditional marriage” messaging happening.  Whatever, they convinced the judges.

Speaking of drama, what could be more dramatic than a holocaust themed marching band performance? No lie. Southmont High School (Crawfordsville) chose the persecution of the Jews as their theme for this year’s performance. The flag corps members were dressed as concentration camp prisoners. A teenage narrator recounted all of the ways Jewish people have been victimized for millennia.

The set was designed to look like prison walls complete with an “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign and an incineration chamber with a stack that started smoking(!) when the narrator discussed “the final solution.” For the record, there’s no other sound like the thud of a thousand jaws hitting hollow aluminum bleachers. The script went on to describe the founding of the new nation of Israel and ended like a Zionist pep rally. Is Mel Brooks workshopping a new idea for a movie or something? I’m praying all of this will show up on You Tube. I was so sorry not to have a video camera.

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8 Comments on “Missed You Tube Moments at the Indiana State Fair”

  1. If there isn’t outrage over Southmont’s performance then we really have become desensitized. I think a letter to Southmont and it’s band director are in order.

  2. bigskymind Says:

    What ever happened to playing music and marching? It has offically gone TOO FAR!!! I could not believe it when D told me about this. For some reason, the Korean themed performance makes me think of the movie “Rushmore”. How could these things be approved by the schools and the band parents?!? I’m still in shock!!!

  3. juliebelle Says:

    oh my, oh my, oh my.

    move over guffman.

    i don’t even know where to begin (with the holocaust theme).

    umm, well, i liked the image of 1000 jaws dropping onto the aluminum bleachers.

    can’t wait for the next installment about the state fair!

  4. Leann Says:

    Um, I think Indiana band directors are smoking crack. When did marching band competitions become drama productions? I was a band nerd and a majorette and the most dramatic thing we did was twirl fire batons. And I rocked by the way even with my singed (sp?) arm hair!

  5. Jennie Says:

    That’s crazy! I’ve never heard of such involved marching band themes.

  6. Susan Says:

    Wow… I was never in that type of marching band. The most themed we ever got was playing “Send in the Clowns” with a clownish circus backdrop which I’m not even sure fit the situation that well..

  7. Troy Says:

    Leann! Scorched arm hair is really taking one for the team! You would automatically have gotten bonus points from our panel.

  8. Leann Says:

    Troy, I loved every minute of it. Except for the time after the ballgame when I dumped the whole can of gasoline on me while walking back to the bandroom. I can’t believe the school let us do that!

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