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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Column: Life of Band-Uh!

Finals week is almost upon us, there’s no dead day and you’re stressed to the max. The last thing you need is a moralizing tale from someone taking 12.5 units. So today, we’ll take a little vacation – a safari, if you will. You’re about to get a glimpse into a dark, mysterious and sometimes odiferous place: the secret world of the California Aggie Marching Band-Uh!

Yes, you’ve heard the stories about this crazy band. I would like to say that these rumors are all utterly false, partly to avoid jail time and partly because it’s fun letting the general public’s imagination run wild.

But I can tell you some stories about Band-Uh’s latest adventure, a road trip to the Big West Conference basketball tournament in Anaheim. Here are the highlights:

Thursday

4 a.m.: My body says no, but my alarm clock says yes. Our manager, Ariel, was very adamant that we leave at 5 a.m. sharp, so I don’t want to be late to our 4:20 (har har) meet time. After somehow securing a huge backpack, messenger bag, grocery tote, sleeping bag and clarinet case to my person, I totter onto my bike and head toward campus.

4:25 a.m.: I roll into the mostly empty band room. In four years, I still haven’t learned that 80 percent of the band will be late to any given gig.

5:05 a.m.: The drivers are having a very official meeting that consists of getting our keys and playing with walkie-talkies. Though most of our road trips are on buses, this is a carryall trip – we’ll be driving ginormous vans checked out from Fleet Services.

5:30 a.m.: Driving one of the vans, I get confused on directions. “Right or left? RIGHT OR LEFT?! WHICH WAY AM I GOING?!” We’re leaving the ARC parking lot. We drive down I-5 for eight-and-a-half hours. It’s thrilling.

2:35 p.m.: The band converges in a parking lot in Anaheim. We’ve got quite some time before performing with the other bands in Downtown Disney, which can only mean one thing: It’s Tunak Tunak Tun time. One car blasts the Indian pop song and we circle up for a ritualistic dance worthy of multiple YouTube views.

8:30 p.m.: The band watches the UC Davis men’s basketball team take on Cal State Fullerton in an intense back-and-forth match. We cheer, we groan, we disparage Fullerton’s skanky dance team.

Due to about 300 time outs, the last 2.5 seconds of the game last so long the original players lose their NCAA eligibility and their children are forced to complete the game. Finally, the band plays the Alma Mater for our victorious team, which has already disappeared into the locker room.

Friday

5:17 p.m.: After some free time frolicking about Anaheim, the band reconvenes outside the parking lot to gear up for the men’s game at 6:30 p.m. – but alas! A hefty chunk of the band is missing. Earlier, some students went off to Riverside to take some proctored exams (we may ditch the last few classes of the quarter, but we’re not academically suicidal). Due to the bizarre and completely unforeseen occurrence of traffic in LA, they’d just made it to the exam location, despite leaving three hours earlier.

Not only is 20 percent of the band absent, but many of our instruments are in the van, too. We redistribute the horns belonging to the Riverside exiles (one flute player decides it’s a good day to learn trombone) and only one person is left without an instrument. Yep, it’s me. This makes up for earlier that day, when driving mishaps resulted in me making up the entire clarinet section. This was terrifying.

Saturday

11 a.m.: We attempt to surprise our women’s basketball team at their hotel. After a few songs and a massive love fest between our two groups, a man approaches our manager.

“You guys don’t know me, but I’m Bob Williams,” he says. Yes, the Bob Williams who led the UC Davis men’s basketball to a 31-2 record and a Division II national championship in 1998.

“I coach for Santa Barbara now,” he continues. “I saw your rally just now, and it’s the thing I miss most about Davis. It brought a tear to my eye.”

Once an Aggie, always an Aggie.

1 p.m.: The women’s championship game tips off. Aggie Pack gives us blue and gold pom-poms, which we spend a solid 10 minutes attaching to our instruments and our persons in creative ways. Once refocused on the game, we start freaking out on UC Riverside, our opponents, who seemed to have forgotten what sport they were playing. Judging by the number and brutality of the fouls committed by the Highlanders, they must have been convinced this was either WWE or a gang rumble.

3:15 p.m.: After a narrow defeat, Aggie Pack and Band-Uh! wait outside the locker room to congratulate the ladies on a game well-played. We wait in depressed, funereal silence – that is until we get distracted by our pom-poms again.

Finally, the ladies trickle out in various stages of misery and heartbreak. We play an inappropriately chipper fight song, then wait around awkwardly for the next team member to emerge. But the smiles they muster up when greeted by their Band-Uh! make it all worth it.

And that was pretty much the trip. We had fun, supported our teams and made others proud to be Aggies. At the end of the day, that’s what it means to be the Band-Uh!

BETH SEKISHIRO much preferred this year’s Anaheim trip to last year’s, when half of us got a stomach virus and were puking too much to drive back. To share your crazy Band-Uh! rumors, contact her at blseki@ucdavis.edu.

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