Put a “reserved” sign on that spot in front of the band.
Oh, this isn’t meant to jinx the game’s outcome. The spot in front of the Southeastern Louisiana University Marching Band is always reserved for a player at the end of every Lion victory. Why should it be any different at an away game?
Especially when that away game marks the beginning of the Southland Conference playoffs.
Southeastern will take on Sam Houston State University at 1 p.m. in Huntsville, Texas. The Lions enter the playoffs after a 9-3 season, and the band will leave its Hammond campus at 5 a.m. Saturday to cheer them to a victory.
“We were anticipating the team going back to the playoffs, so we told our band members in August to leave these dates open,” says Paul Frechou. “When we learned that the first playoff game would be out of town, we talked about it and agreed that we should be there.”
Frechou is the associate director of bands at Southeastern and director of the Spirit of the Southland.
“We talked to the assistant athletic director about it, and they wanted the band there, too, to support the team,” he continues. “We’ll get there in time for the game, then we’ll come back to campus after the game.”
And in between, they’ll play all the songs to keep the fans and team fired up.
These will include the down songs, the sound bites for first, second and third downs; the fight songs and crowd favorites from the pregame show.
Yes, the band will be performing its pregame show but not until halftime.
“We’re not practicing this week, so our halftime show will be part of our pregame show,” Frechou says. “We know it well, but we had to cut it down, because we’re only going to be allowed six minutes for halftime.”
At home games, the band’s pregame show begins by leading the football team on the Lions’ Walk to Strawberry Stadium before making its own official entrance. Then it ups the crowd’s energy level by running on the field to spell “LIONS.”
Next, the cheerleaders join in for the “Gold and Green” fight song, the same tune the chosen Southeastern player conducts at the end of a Lions win. This is followed by the show’s jazz section, beginning with “A Closer Walk,” then “House of the Rising Sun” and finally a call and response with the crowd with “Little Liza Jane.”
“We’ll just be playing the fast ‘A Closer Walk’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’ for the dancers,” Frechou says. “The crowd knows these songs, too.”
Which means the band will be fueling Southeastern fans’ spirit for the second half. But that’s nothing new. All of the band’s regular season halftime shows are designed to keep the crowd engaged.
Take the 2014 season, for instance. The band traded its uniforms for shorts, tank tops and sun hats for a summer-themed show of Beach Boys tunes.
It was something fun to keep the crowd’s spirits high, as was the show performed alongside the Pride of McNeese Marching Band at Southeastern’s Nov. 15 game against McNeese State University.
The bands marched together, then performed with former Blood Sweat & Tears lead singer Luther Kent.
“I’m friends with the McNeese band director, and I called and asked if he would be interested in doing this show together,” Frechou says. “And we’re going on seven years of having a special musical guest at one of our halftime shows. We’ve had Rockin’ Dopsie, and last year, we had the Nightcrawlers out of New Orleans. This year, our band and McNeese had the opportunity to perform with Luther Kent, which was very exciting for them.”
This meant rehearsal time required coordination. Southeastern and McNeese are located on opposite ends of south Louisiana, which made daily joint rehearsals impossible.
“Since we were performing with Luther Kent, it was more of a concert situation, but we did have a short marching sequence at the beginning,” Frechou says. “So, the McNeese band came to campus that morning, and we practiced together. We sent the music to McNeese ahead of time, and our colorguard and dancers came up with routines and sent tapes to McNeese’s colorguard and dancers.”
And it all came together at halftime.
“It was an exciting show for both bands,” Frechou says. “And the crowd loved it.”
Now Frechou turns his attention to Saturday. True, there’s a chance that the Lions may not walk away with a win, but Frechou and the 130 members of the Pride of the Southland will do everything within their power to help the team to a victory.
And at the end of the game, drum majors Hailey Wilkinson and Raymond Jones will count off the first beats, then step aside so the key Southeastern football player can conduct the “Gold and Green.”
“Cheer our team on to victory
“We’ve got to play this game to win the day
“We’ve got to play hard, get in there and make it pay
“It’s time to fight on to a victory
“Stand up and roar with all your might
“Go! Go! Lions, go!
“Get out and fight, fight, fight!