Game day through the eyes of a Cal Bandsman

Matthew Lee/File

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s right, Game Days! Full of drunken revelry and, of course, lots of Cal pride, game days definitely make us proud to be Golden Bears (even if we don’t always win the actual game). But, there are plenty of students who don’t don flash tattoos and Cal gear early Saturday morning, and no, they aren’t stuck in Main Stacks either. We’re talking about the members of the best damn band in the land, the University of California marching band. Their game days look a little different than the usual frat hopping and barbecuing that most of us enjoy – here’s a peek.

Six hours before kickoff (this could be as early as 4:30 a.m.): Rehearsal in Memorial Stadium. This includes running both the halftime and pregame shows, and cleaning them up until they look perfect.

Four hours before kickoff: lunch (or breakfast) barbecue. Burgers or breakfast patties? Honestly no one knows.

Two hours and 45 minutes before kickoff: Performances begin! Some bandsmen don their full uniforms and head up to the stadium to welcome the football team which we call “March to Victory,” another group can be found at Alumni House, and yet another at Faculty Glade.

Two hours and 30 minutes before kickoff: The percussion section warms up on Sproul Plaza, while the rest of the band prepares for our pre-game concert which involves a whole lot of cheering.

Two hours before kickoff: The band runs up from Lower Sproul and onto the Sproul steps for our pregame concert.

One hour and 40 minutes before kickoff: The band marches up to the stadium! They take a pretty long route past Doe library, past Haas, all the way to Memorial Stadium. For a brief moment, the band takes a break in North Tunnel.

One hour and 30 minutes before kickoff: The football team enters the stadium to a gauntlet of Cal Bandsmen dancing and cheering, two clarinets click their buckles on their uniforms together, and everyone “clicks” to wish each other good luck on the upcoming pregame show!

45 minutes before kickoff: With the burst of a cannon, Cal Band explodes from North Tunnel to perform their pre-game show!

Kickoff: Cal Band settles in the stands to cheer on the team and play various songs whenever the stadium ads offer them a window of time.

Halftime: This is Cal Band’s big moment! Watch out for dance blocks, some cool songs and, of course, a completely student-charted field show.

Post Game: Even after the game ends, Cal Band is still hard at work. Playing for fans as they leave the stadium, they are the last to leave.

One hour after the game: The band marches down from the stadium back to their home base in the Cesar Chavez center. Win or lose, energy is still high, and even though this is going on hour 12 in uniform, everyone still remains in high spirits.

One hour and 30 minutes after the game: Finally out of uniform, every bandsman is ready for a shower and a long nap. Game day complete.

While this is just a brief overview, you can understand that the Cal Band’s game day involves a lot more time in a wool uniform and a lot less time at fraternities. Even though it’s jam-packed, a Cal Band game day is full of fun and incomparable memories, both on the field and in the stands.

Contact Gillian Perry at [email protected].