Stanford 20, Cal 13

Last week of regular season college football, and for many college students, it’s huge. At Stanford, it’s Big Game week. We play our rival, Cal (UC Berkeley), in a crazy game for possession of “The Axe.” The most famous game was played exactly 25 years ago, where Stanford took the lead with 4 seconds on the clock. In an amazing (yet controversial) play, Cal returned the kickoff for a touchdown for the win, in “The Play.”

I’m not big on rivalries. I think it brings out the worst in people. I’m all for cheering for your favorite team, but when it turns to booing the opposition, that’s just nasty. I remember how my high school had a rivalry turn full-on last year, with our game being featured as the high school game of the week. People became very intense about it, and it felt over-the-top. We became highly opposed to people who were no different from us, minus living 15 minutes away in a different zone. And many of them were our friends.

College, naturally, isn’t any better. Turned somewhat belligerent, actually, including some very popular “Cal Sucks” shirts and cars driving around yelling profanities at pedestrians.

Regardless, the game itself was very exciting. Somewhat cold, but close, with many moments. The game was really just a game like any other, though, except that there were Stanford fans. And they cared. The crowd has been somewhat disappointing to me up to now. Mayhaps I have unrealistic expectations about football from having experienced high school football in Texas. Hopefully, though, this win will turn things around next season, and people will care. They certainly cared when we rushed the field. That was very crazy.

The most significant point for me, though, was watching the Cal marching band. Unlike the Stanford marching band (a scatter band), the Cal marching band is at least somewhat serious about marching. They actually march, and have a drilled show. It was actually very entertaining, with a show and music focused around video games.

I love the Stanford marching band. They have a lot of fun, are the most-spirited group for our sports teams, are well-liked, and just make the campus fun. For myself, however, marching band is closer to what I saw from Cal. But life moves on. Can’t cling to and try to emulate high school marching band forever. Better a clean cut than to slowly lose it.

So the other big event of the day was “Big Concert.” A couple weeks ago, it was advertised as having a group called “The Roots” to come perform. Seeing as it would be hopefully an action-packed weekend, I paid for my ticket and decided to try it out.

Only a couple days ago did I learn that they were a hip-hop group. I’ve never listened to hip-hop before. Heck, I’ve never been to a live concert for a non-orchestral/big band jazz/wind ensemble concert before. I listened to a couple of their recordings, and definitely wasn’t amazed by it.

Regardless, I went to the concert tonight as I once again proved my poor understanding of sunk costs. Fortunately, I was totally wrong about my expected utility. That was a seriously rocking concert. I became more leery as I listened to some openers play hip-hop and not particularly enjoy it. “The Roots”, however, are a hip-hop fusion group, with some jazz and funk and other stuff thrown in. The group had the typical vocals, guitar, bassist, drummer, but also had a keyboard player, percussionist (temple blocks and bongos, I think), and a souaphone player. Yes, a tuba.

The sound blew me away. Well, physically, it was, like all live concerts nowadays, not only aural but also kinesthetic as the bass vibrated my clothing (I thought I was going to have a heart attack, because it felt like my entire abdomen was shaking). Past that, the concert had just about everything in it. They mashed a lot of stuff in, including “The Hey Song”, a lick from “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” and that “Tonto, Jump on it” song, and tons more I didn’t recognize. “Jungle Boogie” was prominently featured at the end, and there was even a great section focused around a Bob Dylan song. Some amazing stuff, including a drum solo enhanced with playback.

And I just can’t say enough about the tuba player. How cool. When I switched from trumpet to tuba, I had this conception that I would be in a sore spot, as the tuba doesn’t really have much appeal across genres. But it’s cool to know it happens, and is appreciated. Of course, he was miked, but even so, he toughed out about a 2 hour concert playing very loudly.

It was just a great concert though. It definitely proved to me that there is tons of great music out there, even in the contemporary stuff. Over the past couple years, I’ve shut out a lot of music as I’ve felt that music is just degrading, and that pop is ruining our minds. Never listened to rap, never listened to hip-hop, thought it was trash, to be blunt. How glad I am to have been proven wrong. I don’t see myself becoming a crazy hip-hop fan in the coming days, but it’s still good to open doors.

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