Weekend plans had to be canceled and schedules rearranged, but LSU Tiger Marching Band Director Roy King knows the University of South Carolina’s Mighty Sound of the Southeast Marching Band would do the same if the circumstances were reversed.
With devastating floodwaters forcing the Tigers’ game against the University of South Carolina from Columbia to Baton Rouge, the Tiger Band is doing what it can to make sure the Gamecocks feel at home in Tiger Stadium.
“This is a home game for them, but they won’t even be able to send a pep band,” King said. “So I called their band and asked them what we could do. We’re learning their Alma Mater to play at Pregame and their fight song.”
But the Gamecocks and their fans aren’t the only ones who had to change their Saturday plans. Since the game originally was scheduled in Williams Brice Stadium, the Tiger Band planned to send only a 110-piece pep band to the game. That left the other three quarters of the band’s 325 members with a weekend off.
“Many of them from out of state had plane tickets to visit family,” King says. “But I started talking to them early about this being a possibility and asked them more and more to start thinking about changing their plans to accommodate this game. Then it happened. The game is being played here, and those that had plane tickets had to give them up at personal expense. That’s a lot of money for college kids.”
Still, King knew the band would come through.
“I told them stories about the things that happened after Hurricane Katrina,” he said. “The campus was inundated with helicopters, and we didn’t know if we’d have the whole band on campus for rehearsal.”
Many band members’ homes also were damaged or destroyed by the hurricane, their families scattered in the wake of Katrina’s wrath.
“But the whole band showed up,” King says. “I’m always amazed by their dedication. They’ve always come through, and they’ve done it again for this.”
King said two band members could not change plans because of family weddings.
“Their family members strategically planned these weddings at this time, because they thought it would be an away game,” he said. “Those are situations we definitely understand. These are moments that they can’t miss, and we were glad to excuse them from the game for that. So, we’ll just be missing two out of 325 members.”
The band will not veer from tradition Saturday, first playing its “Pregame” song on Victory Hill outside the stadium, then performing the Pregame show, complete with the stadium salute, before the game.
But since Tiger Stadium will be South Carolina’s home field, the band will play the university’s Alma Mater, “We Hail Thee Carolina,” while standing in the “LSU” formation. LSU’s Alma Mater will follow, then the National Anthem.
“We’re also trying to figure out some logistics for South Carolina’s fight song,” King says.
South Carolina’s Mighty Sound of the Southeast plays “Step to the Rear” when the Gamecocks take the field and after every touchdown. The Golden Band from Tigerland will play it only at the beginning of the game.
“We’re trying to figure out how to put some of our band members on the opposite side of the field to play the team on to the field, just as their band would do if they were here,” King says. “But I told South Carolina’s band director (Associate Director of Bands Cormac Cannon) that after that, we would only be playing our fight song for the Tigers.”
King added that the LSU Athletic Department also will accommodating South Carolina with the stadium’s video screens before the game.
“They’ll be playing some of South Carolina’s hype videos before the game,” King says. “South Carolina’s athletic department requested it, and LSU is glad to accommodate them.”
The Tiger Band also will be performing at halftime.
“We’ll play the Earth, Wind and Fire section from last week’s show,” King says. “We’ve had to put all of this together really fast, and we’re still working on South Carolina’s music. We’re just hoping that we can play their Alma Mater and fight song as well as the South Carolina band performs it.”