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Time Outs and Short Ditties: Gameday Tunes of the WVU Marching Band

WRITTEN BY JAKE STUMP  

You know and adore "Country Roads" and everything else in the Mountaineer Marching Band pregame show ("Simple Gifts," "Hail West Virginia," etc.). 

But what about the other songs they blaze through during timeouts and delays in the game?

Those are called “stand tunes,” meaning the band plays them while in the stands, said WVU Director of Bands Scott Tobias. And you’ve probably hummed along to at least one of those ditties, regardless of your age or musical preference.

“We look for songs that appeal to a wide, cross-section of the audience,” Tobias said. “We want everyone at the game to feel like there’s a song they can relate to.” 

That explains why your shaggy uncle rocks out to “Frankenstein” and “Immigrant Song” but not “Uptown Funk.” Before each football season, the band strings together what it dubs its “repertoire list” that is played during pauses in the game. 

For timeouts, the band has around two minutes to perform. For other breaks in the game, the band might play 10- or 15-second snippets they call “short ditties.” NCAA rules permit bands to perform only between when a play is blown dead to when teams get in position at the line of scrimmage. 

Here’s a look at some of those tunes, with the entire timeout and short ditty list for the 2017 season posted at the bottom. I imagine it’s more diverse than what the University of Oklahoma has to offer

House of the Rising Sun


A perennial fan favorite, “The House of the Rising Sun” is a traditional folk song, popularized in the 1960s by British rock group the Animals.

The Pride’s arrangement has become a staple for the band, performing it not only at games but also across the state, such as at Jefferson High School in the clip above. 

As a bonus, here’s a point-of-view video from former band member James O’Hara at the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Alabama in the Georgia Dome. 


If you don’t remember the outcome of that game, leave it at that.


Light Em Up


In 2013, Fall Out Boy – everyone’s favorite band named after a fictional sidekick on “The Simpsons” – released a poppy rock number called “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up).”

Despite the unnecessarily long and unimaginative song title, it became a rompin’ stompin’ part of the Pride’s playlist and appeals to the youngsters in the crowd. 

Holiday


If Fall Out Boy isn’t your flavor of alt-pop rock, then perhaps Green Day will do. “Holiday” was the third single off the punk trio’s critically acclaimed “American Idiot.” 

Lyrically, the song strikes a political tone as it took aim at right-wing America during the George W. Bush presidency. 

But the Pride’s arrangement washes away the angst and would even get William F. Buckley Jr. grooving.

Game of Thrones


A new addition to this year’s set is the theme to “Game of Thrones.” Since there’s no existing YouTube footage of the Pride performing it, all we have for you is a five-hour loop of the theme put together by a very bored person.

Much like the football team, a bit of strategy goes into the timing and execution of the performance. You’ll most likely hear the band playing tunes like this and the “Jaws” theme when the Mountaineers are on defense.

“‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Jaws’ and ‘Seven Nation Army’ give off strong, loud foreboding sounds,” Tobias said.

Mars, the Bringer of War


It doesn’t get more foreboding than this. While the title may not seem familiar, you'll recognize the sound (it’s all cued up for you at the 4:24 mark). It’s part of the overall orchestral suite “The Planets,” by composer Gustav Holst.

Tobias called this tune “sinister” and a favorite to play on third down with the Mountaineers on defense. 

The only thing that might top it would be if the Pride performed tracks from Slayer’s “Hell Awaits.” Time to recruit more metalheads.

Bonus: Smells Like Teen Spirit


Nirvana’s breakthrough hit is not part of the Pride’s gameday setlist. But this is hard not to share with the Mountaineer universe. 

From a drum major’s perspective, this video, shot and produced by former band member Kyle Monroe, shows the Pride performing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins, W.Va., in 2016. 

And now....the list in its sweet glory. 

The 2017 Repertoire List 

Time Outs
House of the Rising Sun
Light Em Up 
Hey Baby 
Crazy in Love 
Runaway Baby 
Cold Hearted 
Talkin’ Out the Side of Your Neck 
I Want You Back
Frankenstein 
Dancing Machine 
Celebration 
Uptown Funk 
Game of Thrones
Tear the Roof 
Pretty Fly 
Holiday 

Short Ditties 
4 Chords
Star Wars (52-57) 
Mars 
Dies Irae 
Seven Nation Army 
Carmina Burana 
Jaws 
Phantom of the Opera 
Verdi 
Game of Thrones 
Star Trek (29-36 + note) 
Immigrant Song (1-5 looped)
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