As the clammy frosts recede and winter sits down to slumber, a ray of light shines out over the crisp, golden fields of UC Davis. Songbirds roost and let forth their joyous noises, viscous, green mucus rolls out between the itchy membranes of insufferable allergy-ridden nasal cavities, freshmen stumble drunkenly out into the morning sun and vomit on the J-line.
Spring Quarter is upon us.
And if you look closely enough, you just might see throngs of sweating students tooting their horns for eight hours a week until April 20. These are the members of the California Aggie Marching Band-uh!, and they practice so fervently for one simple reason: to make some music on Picnic Day.
“It’s our favorite event,” said Brandon Rojas, third-year biological sciences major. “It’s the pinnacle of our year.”
With performances in two parades, one special concert for alumni and duking it out in the Battle of the Bands, the numerous bandsmen certainly know how to get around. They hold the annual celebration to be their finest hour, not only practicing eight hours a week starting the first day of Spring Quarter until Picnic Day, but also having seven-hour practice on the second Saturday of the quarter as well as specific sectional practice for three hours a week.
With such a heavy time commitment, many Band-uh! members opt to take a lighter course load in the spring, arranging their schedule to accommodate the rehearsal demands.
While attendance is mandatory, some leniency is afforded for students with conflicting schedules. Only two of the eight practice hours, excluding the additional sections, can be missed in order to march in the parade.
“Sometimes people have conflicts that they just can’t get out of, but they will go to extra practices during the week,” said Bryan Jones, third-year wildlife, fish and conservation major. “If you plan on marching, you usually try to schedule around those practices.”
Picnic Day itself is a crowded event for the band. They wake up at six in the morning and take formal pictures in full-dress, step off for the parade at 9 a.m., perform their show in multiple stations downtown along the route, load up onto a truck for an additional performance, then repeat the parade at 11:30 a.m. Their evening ends whenever the noise ordinance laws demand they cease sometime later at the Battle of the Bands, which they participate in each year at Lake Spafford in the Arboretum. There are two key rules for determining the victor:
Rule 1: The last band to play their fight song wins the Battle.
Rule 2: The Band-uh! always plays their fight song last.
Alumni are invited to participate in the day’s events and even attend several practice sessions to recharge their musical chops.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity because I still live in Davis,” said Stephanie Hartfield, who graduated in 2011. “ Whenever we [alumni] are invited, I take every opportunity. It’s just a nice place to come back to play my trumpet.”
Catch the Band-uh! as they do their thing in their many locations this Saturday. For further information, check out their Facebook page.
ADAM KHAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.