The blare of the brass and penetrating thump of bass drums signals the start of the show; halftime at a historically black college football game. For many HBCU alumni, students and fans, the band experience is at the core of HBCU culture, in all that these schools represent in nurturing environments, academic excellence, and tradition woven into the black American experience, you can find their elements in the precision and expertise of black college marching musicians.
Fans are still months away from the fall kickoff of HBCU bands. But in the waiting months of spring and summer, hardcore ‘bandheads’ take to the web to trash talk about band battles past, and to post bold predictions for the 2014 marching season.
Here are five must-see websites to cure your HBCU marching band fix.
The 5thQuarter.com - Named after the performance time for two bands to play at the conculsion of a football game, the 5th Quarter is one of the longest running and most active message boards on the Internet dedicated to marching band performances. It is the premier destination for trash talk, video posts, and message board wars about HBCU marching bands.
BandHead.org - What World Star Hip Hop has become to ratchet culture, Bandhead.org has become to marching band culture. The forum, which is one of the largest independent social networks serving band musicians in high school and colleges nationwide, also serves as an event calendar and job board for aspiring and professional musicians.
Da Edge 1 Productions YouTube Page - Created by Southern University Human Jukebox videographer Garrett Edgerson, this YouTube portal is one of the most visited channels on the Internet for the latest in band performances from Southern, other bands in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and beyond. According to Edgerson, fans will never tire of the marching band experience, because of its roots as a revenue-bearing enterprise for HBCUs.
“Bands are so important for our schools. For example, Southern played FAMU in the 2011 Atlanta Classic and the attendance was off the charts,” Edgerson says. “Both SU and FAMU have a long band history and bandheads from all over went to Atlanta for that game. In 2012, SU played FAMU in the same game but, because FAMU's band was suspended, the attendance was greatly affected.”
Marching Podcast - A podcast dedicated to interviewing leading voices in HBCU marching band culture, the Marching Podcast is among the first consistent journalistic ventures in regular coverage of black college bands. Podcast Creator Joseph Beard, who marched in the Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South, outlines the ways in which crowds determine the winners in a band battle.
“The easiest way in the 5th quarter is if one band leaves first. Sometimes the band runs out of songs and they leave, while the other plays. Some bands say they have plans or you will always hear some type of excuse. The public ultimately decides.”
“Another way is if there is a massive mistake by one of the bands on the field at halftime or in the stands in the zero (before kickoff) or 5th quarters. If everyone notices a mistake, unless the other band messes up to the same degree, its hard to erase that thought in the fans’ minds.”
“Winning the crowd, if your band does something and the entire crowd goes wild, that is what we call "house" and that is a great feeling. If the other band does not match the crowd excitement, then that is considered losing the battle. The home crowd will always root for their band, but if a band does something incredible, you can tell from everyone’s reaction.”
TSPNSports.com - An authority on SWAC football updates and breaking news in black college football, TSPN Sports is also home to a robust band forum, where hirings and firings band directors, inside scoops on upcoming halftime shows, and discussion on upcoming band appearances is only upstaged by heated fan smack talk.