An instrumental version of “Hey! Baby” could be heard outside the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday afternoon.
And it seemed to be much louder than usual.
When the doors to the arena opened, an even louder presence — people singing along — filled the air.
Penn State senior Tyler Kennedy lifted his hands over his head and swayed back and forth as he finished the rest of the song with a nearly packed crowd.
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“It’s the perfect way to show our spirit,” Kennedy said.
The Penn State Blue Band and the University of Massachusetts Minutemen Marching Band teamed up to hold a free public concert at the Jordan Center despite their schools’ respective football teams going head-to-head in a 48-7 Nittany Lion win.
Blue Band spokesman and drum line member Patrick Burke said the Blue Band staff and front office coordinated with the Penn State athletics department, and staff members from UMass to make the “Unrivaled Band Jam” concert a reality.
“It something we wanted to showcase after working together for a while on this,” Burke said. “It’s fun and a way to unite the schools and fans.”
The Mifflinburg, South Williamsport, Southern Columbia and Portage area high school marching bands also played.
The marching bands also took the field together for a postgame concert, but the band jam, however, won’t be a gameday tradition, Burke said.
“We’re always looking for new things to do to connect with all sorts of fans,” Burke said.
Each marching band played songs before joining together with “Hey! Baby” and another upbeat song universally known among marching bands.
“For this week, this event was a no-brainer to do,” Burke said. “Penn State used to have ‘band day’ years ago, and we wanted to bring that back. UMass has an incredible marching band, and we’re just happy to have the opportunity to play with them.”
The Blue Band has just more than 300 members. The Minutemen Marching Band has more than 400, Burke said.
UMass drum major member Rachel Rivard, a senior, said it was a chance to showcase music over rivalry.
“I think in marching band there is a great camaraderie from California to Connecticut,” Rivard said. “We’re playing in support of the music.”
She said Penn State has been welcoming in inviting the band to play at the BJC — something the Minutemen Marching Band has done with other schools.
“We played with UConn. It was great,” Rivard said. “It’s the same feeling everywhere you go.”
And for the high school students, it was a “dream come true.”
South Williamsport senior Sydney Blosser, an alto saxophone player, missed a soccer game just to participate in something she never thought was possible.
“It’s exciting,” Blosser, 17, said. “I’ve never been to a Penn State game, let alone ever play with the Blue Band. I think I saw them play once, but it’s unreal to actually perform with them.”
Jenna Marchaesse, a Penn State fan with no connection to the university other than growing up in State College, said the two bands joining forces was a “classy” way to showcase the kind of university Penn State is in light of the negative attention Rutgers fans got when the Scarlet Knights hosted the Nittany Lions last weekend.
“Some people are just (expletive),” Marchaesse said. “That’s not us. We know it’s a time to be competitive, but won’t go to that extent … Something like having this (concert) lets people know we have a united front with whoever we play.”
Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann issued a public apology Monday for the “classless display” of some fans toward Penn State. Photos reportedly surfaced on social media of some Scarlet Knights fans “making light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal,” ESPN reported.
Some Penn State fans told the CDT that they were spit on by Rutgers fans and repeatedly verbal harassed.