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5 College Marching Bands That Rock

University of Michigan
Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Marching bands are a little cooler than they generally get credit for. Don’t believe us? Remember Radiohead performing ’15 Step’ with the University of Southern California Spirit of Troy at the Grammys? How about Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl’ video, which featured the Fountain Valley High School band? Perhaps you’ve heard that Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor played tenor sax in his high school marching band? Indeed, these massive ensembles carry some cred in the rock world, and college ensembles have been adding alt-rock tunes to their arsenals for years, starting with a wave of bands busting out ‘Smells Like Teem Spirit’ back in the early ’90s. To celebrate the merry month of March, here’s a list of 5 College Marching Bands That Rock.


The Univesity of Michigan Marching Band

Performing fun.'s 'We Are Young'
 
 

Formed all the way back in 1896, the 350-member Michigan Marching Band has been playing pop music since at least the '80s, when it started busting out Otis Redding's 'I Can't Turn You Loose' from 'The Blues Brothers.' These days, their repertoire is much more eclectic, spanning everything from Led Zeppelin and Lady Gaga to fun.'s 'We Are Young,' which became a favorite during the 2012 season.

 

The Ohio State University Marching 110

Performing the White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army'
 
 

The White Stripes were from Detroit, but it was a marching band at University of Michigan rivals Ohio State University that first helped make the Stripes' anthem 'Seven Nation Army' an immensely popular sporting anthem.

 

The University of Washington Husky Marching Band

Performing Green Day, the White Stripes and Muse
 
 

It's hard enough to rock out on a trumpet, let alone a piccolo, but that doesn't stop the University of Washington Husky Marching Band from getting down during halftime. One fan favorite performed by the renowned 240-piece ensemble is its 'History of Rock' medley, which includes classic cuts like Green Day's 'Basket Case,' the White Stripes 'Seven Nation Army' and Muse's 'Uprising.'

 

The University of California Berkeley Cal Band

Performing a Killers Medley
 
 

Killers covers don't get much more epic than this: Before the University of California Berkeley's 2010 season opener against UC Davis, the UCB marching band busted out a medley of Killers hits, including 'When We Were Young,' 'Mr. Brightside' and 'Somebody Told Me.' It was a winning combination: the Golden Gophers killed the Aggies, 52 to 3.

 

The Albany State University Marching Rams

Performing Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'
 
 

Albany State University's band doesn't share the rich history that some of the more prestigious college marching bands can boast, but sometimes, it takes relative newcomers like the Marching Rams to take established band etiquette and turn it on its ear. Check out their version of 'Teen Spirit,' which features an arrangement so boisterous that it almost captures the punk energy Nirvana had when they first arrived on the scene. Almost.

 

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