I got up at the ungodly weekend hour of 6:30 this morning to roadtrip with Dan to his old Indiana stomping grounds—and we spent eight full hours shivering our asses off together watching some amazing performances at the 2003 District Marching Band Festival. We both have long and distinguished high-school marching band careers; I played trombone and mallet percussion, and Dan played saxophone and eventually became his school's drum major (a title I never got to claim because I was "too valuable" as a musician, but I'm not bitter).
A few observations about marching bands, then vs. now:
1) I remember marching band being about pride in our skills and good-natured competition among our city's schools. Now it seems to be a blood sport.
2) Our drum majorettes wore cute little drum majorette outfits complete with epaulets and tasseled boots. Now the majorettes literally wear evening-length couture complete with opera gloves and velvet capes.
3) When I was in high school, the bands programmed their field shows around themes like famous musicals or Latin music. Now they do abstract "concept" shows inspired by obscure emotions and march to the 5/4 nightmares of Gustav Holst.
4) I don't remember our band parents being as rabid as the parents I saw today. (See observation #1.)
5) I also don't remember spending gazillions of dollars on props and set pieces and matching marimbas ... and all that couture. (See observation #2.)
Frozen extremities notwithstanding (does prolonged shivering count as cardio?), we had a great day, and I was repeatedly amazed by the talents (and manifest dedication) displayed by the musicians and color guard members we watched. Best of all, we spent the 2+ hour drive each way singing along with Bette, Barbra and a host of show-tune CDs.
We were going to cap off the day with Jake and Dan's Night of Raunchy Leather-Bar Hopping, but we're cold and tired—and we exchanged a ton of CDs we want to burn to our hard drives. (Barbra is being ripped as I type this.)