The Marching 110 capped off its 50th anniversary season Saturday night with an exhilarating showcase of the pop hits, ‘80s rock and traditional tunes it played throughout the year at its annual Varsity Show.
This year marks half a century of the Marching 110 as it’s come to be known with its contemporary songs, dance routines and modern uniforms. In addition to the fun chart-topping hits the band typically plays to admiring crowds, the Varsity Show included small tributes to its proud history.
The show opened with a short video celebrating the anniversary year, which showed clips of recent shows alongside black-and-white footage of previous bands. The 110 then marched down the side aisles of the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium and took its place on stage to the drum line’s cadences. As the band transitioned smoothly into “Stand Up and Cheer,” the crowd that filled the auditorium was on its feet, clapping to the rhythm.
After the fight song, the band charged ahead with a sequence of songs that followed a “dreams” theme. Eighties hits like Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” rocked the auditorium as the silver brass of instruments flashed under the stage lights.
The next set featured four tracks from Bruno Mars’ latest album, 24K Magic, followed by tunes played at the Homecoming game from the band Chicago. The band’s arrangement of “25 or 6 to 4” was a particularly lively highlight of the show that featured select band members who performed the dance sequence in front of the rest of the group.
After the intermission, the 110 returned to the stage with a thrilling performance of one of its standard tunes, Styx’s “Light Up.” The band and crowd alike found themselves drawn into the show’s energy once again with a set of “Pop 2k17” charts and some eerie Halloween-themed tunes. Little Mix’s “Power” also seemed to be both a band and crowd favorite.
The announcing voice interrupted the performance briefly to celebrate the many accomplishments of the marching band since its evolution in 1967. Band alumni cheered as past directors were saluted, and the crowd applauded in support as just a few of the band’s many highlight moments from the last half century were announced, including performances at NFL games, parades and international venues.
Tim Grannen, who graduated from Ohio University in 2014, played the clarinet in the Marching 110 and has since seen multiple band shows at both the Ohio Theater and the Varsity Shows. He also returned to Athens for Homecoming this fall and was excited to see all of the band alumni who returned for the band’s anniversary.
“It’s a thrilling experience,” Grannen said. “It’s fun to see songs you’ve played in the past, and now you get to see it from the other side. It’s nice to come back and see what you left behind. Seeing your legacy being carried on in the tradition is nice.”
As the end of the performance neared, Marching 110 Director Richard Suk took the stage to honor graduating seniors. After each one was announced by name, the remaining band members gave another, more solemn performance of “Stand Up and Cheer” as the soon-to-be graduates looked on from off-stage.
Mallory Scaife, a senior studying music education who plays the clarinet, said her thoughts on her last Varsity Show were hard to put into words.
“Watching the whole band play ‘Stand Up and Cheer’ was really sad,” she said. “I didn’t even know you were supposed to clap during it … because I’ve always played during it.”
The evening ended with the most passionate and prideful performances of the night of the band’s standards “Ain’t Been Good,” “Long Train Running” and “Cheer.” The drum line played cadences as the group marched and danced out of the auditorium to close the performance.
Adam Perry, a senior studying music education who plays the trumpet, said he appreciated the fans and his family who attended his final Varsity Show.
“It was full of emotion,” he said. “It was great seeing everyone giving so much energy and driving all of that passion into a show.”
Correction: A previous version of this report misstated where some of the music was from. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.