The beat of the Syracuse University Marching Band drum line rang out in the Carrier Dome this week, even if the Orange football season is in the books, as the band prepared for its next performance.
This weekend’s Super Bowl festivities in the New York City metro area will have a touch of Syracuse: S.U.’s marching band will entertain the crowd at MetLife Stadium before the kick-off of Super Bowl XLVIII.
"This is the highest profile event that this band will probably have ever done," said band director Justin Mertz at a practice this week.
Mertz got a call from the NFL back in November about performing. It’s tradition for college marching bands to play at the Super Bowl, he learned, but he had to keep a lid on the news for a few weeks.
"I just wanted so badly to be able to tell them because I really thought this would be a great source of validation and pride," he said, "but I had to keep my mouth shut until I knew it was okay to tell them."
The S.U. band will perform with their counterparts from Rutgers University. And the show will have a New York and New Jersey feel.
"We had more ideas than we could fit into the show, believe it or not," he said. "So we picked what we thought would be the most recognizable, the most audience friendly, and that’s what we went with."
For example, the routine includes a bit of New Jersey native Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer. For something New York, they switch into Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys. A Bruce Springsteen classic makes an appearance too.
Mertz says he’s been coordinating the routine with the Rutgers band over the phone and by email for weeks.
It will be a long day for the 200 member band. The bus leaves at 4:30 a.m. Sunday. They’ll go straight to the Rutgers campus for their first rehearsal together. "I’m anticipating it’ll go pretty seamlessly," said Mertz. "We’ll get it together, run it a couple of times and that’ll be that."
After the show, it will be right back to Syracuse. Monday is a school day, after all.
Besides a bigger stage, the Super Bowl will also be an outdoor stage, unlike the Carrier Dome. Senior Ashley Orifice says that’s not something they’re worried about.
"We don’t really need to adjust that much acoustically and we’re pretty comfortable about the weather," she said.
Being on the field will likely be a blur, Orifice said, but the experience will be exciting.
Here's a preview of the routine: