(This post is part of a fundraiser for 826 Boston, a non-profit tutoring and writing center. For a donation of $50 or more, readers can get me to write anything about hockey they want, so donate today to make me say stuff by clicking here. I probably don’t believe the nonsense below, which was requested by Cornelius Hardenbergh.)
If you go to a lot of college hockey games (and I do!!!), you are probably very familiar with the idea of a pep band. Some schools — Northeastern, Cornell, BU, Maine — do it better than others — UMass Amherst, Merrimack — but the idea is a simple one: Instead of playing canned music between whistles and between periods, a band plays live music.
And they play the music you’d expect, for the most part. Fight song-type music, the pop hits of the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and today, etc. And maybe it sounds a little corny, but it’s mega-fun. For some reason, Northeastern’s pep band plays “Stacy’s Mom” and the whole student section sings every stupid word of a Fountains of Wayne song from a decade ago. Why? I don’t. But it’s great.
BU fans maybe take their little routine with the pep band a little too far, because when you hear them do the “Tequila!” thing 20 times a year, you get sick of it. And literally every pep band on earth could do with playing “Shipping Up To Boston” and “Seven-Nation Army” a little less often.
But the point is that these bands make it a lot more fun to go to a hockey game than if you just listened to Jock Jams between shifts. Listening to Jock Jams sucks, but we all still have to do it all the time; Jock Jams are, in fact, so popular that we still refer to them as Jock Jams even though there hasn’t been an official compilation of them since 2001.
And it’s a lesson NHL teams could take to heart.
NHL rinks are big and soulless, and the volume at which they play the dreadful music craved by the masses borders on headache-inducing. A pep band sorts all that out quickly, and they can still play whatever arrangements of the latest Gangnam Style-level Viral Craze is sweeping the nation. All they have to do is learn it, and it somehow still feels fresher than someone pressing play on a CD player. You know how people love organs at NHL games? It’s like that, but better.
It will, of course, never happen, because you have to give like three-quarters of a section over to some tuba players, and that’s lost revenue. But look at the above video featuring the University of Virginia pep band playing at a Capitals game. That’s way better than hearing “Shake It Off” for the hundredth time (even if “Shake It Off” is great (which it is)).
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