Leading the Princeton University Band through the Tiger Tailgate in Fine Plaza
Sameer A. Khan
At Homecoming, nonstop music and fun

Destiny Eisenhour ’20 joined the Princeton University Band freshman year as a sousaphone player. Now she’s the drum major — the one dancing around with the mace. Behind the scenes, she handles the logistics while making sure everyone in the band is having fun. We tried to keep up with her busy schedule the day of the Homecoming game against Brown Oct. 13. 

Rehearsal I woke up at 6:30, and the first thing I did was print out the show sheets that have our pregame and halftime formations. Since it was raining, we just did field rehearsal on the practice field with no instruments to get our formations down. Then we came back to the stadium and practiced the music there so the instruments wouldn’t get wet. 

Campus march-around Every Saturday home game, we go around campus making a lot of noise, telling people to come to the football game and trying to get people hyped up. We start from the stadium, then we go to Frist. We play a version of “Tequila” in the late-meal area, then we go up the stairs and we play “Rock Lobster.” They’re songs we don’t even have written down, but people just learn them and teach all the new members. During one part of “Rock Lobster,” a signature band thing is that everyone lies down on the floor and “lobsters” — moving your legs up and down. It’s a pretty interesting sight! 

Blair Arch We do an arch gig where our drums will play every cadence we know and we do all the cadence dances. It’s just a lot of noise. As soon as we started the arch gig, it stopped raining and we were like, “Wow, we just brought the sun out!” 

Class of 1956 tailgate We’ve been playing at the Class of ’56 tailgate for over 30 years. We play some songs for them, and I make some bad jokes between the songs. The Class of ’56 really likes us and thinks that we’re great, and they also raise money for Friends of Tiger Band. That’s why the [plastic] pumpkins we play have “56” written on the back: They gave us those.

Postgame celebration in the Woodrow Wilson School fountain
Sameer A. Khan

Alumni tailgate It’s super fun to play for alumni in Fine Plaza, especially when we play Princeton songs and all of them sing along with us. When I was playing an instrument, I never saw that because I was either watching the conductor or looking at my music. Now, my job is basically to dance and wave the mace around, so I’m free to look around and watch all of them sing. 

Pregame We always march on to the “Princeton Cannon Song” for pregame performances. Then we played “Vehicle” — the Brown band told us that something went wrong with their bus, so we made a joke about that and then we formed a bus. Our signature pregame ends in a double-rotating “P,” then we play the national anthem and run off the field to make a tunnel at the home-team tunnel and play “Cannon” as they run out on the field. 

Halftime show At the end of the second quarter, we’ll watch the other band perform and cheer them on, and then we line up and do our halftime show. Our show this week was about an internet café that opened up in Providence where students are sharing their data for free coffee. We made some jokes about that — that’s all our own research, all of those Sunday/Monday-night show-writing sessions where we’re searching “Providence scandals” to see what’s happening. We played “Shut Up and Dance,” and then we transitioned to the flasher routine: We hide these phrases under our jackets and turn around to show the phrases. The first phrase was “DREAD BYTES” because of that café, and that turned into “TEDDY BEARS,” since we played Brown, which then flipped to “SIS BOOM AH!”

The game There’s always so much going on. I need to be paying attention to the game to know when we need to be playing. When we’re not playing, it’s my job to keep people engaged by doing a lot of cheers — we have offensive and defensive cheers. We’ll also do cheers like “give me a letter.” My favorite is [spelling] out each letter of our band president’s email address. Then we yell his email address and say, “for all comments and complaints.” We take the third quarter off from playing unless we score, then we’ll play our fight song. We call it “pants-less third quarter” — everyone takes their pants off, but we’re wearing boxers or spandex shorts. 

After the game We play the fight song and since we won [48–10], we play “Kiss Them Goodbye” and then “Rock Lobster” again. After every home game we win, we all go to the [Woodrow Wilson School] fountain and go pants-less again and play songs in the fountain. We take the Brown band with us into the fountain because we’re super close to them. We went back and changed, and then we took some of the Brown bandies to Hoagie Haven. It was a really long day, but it’s always super fun because you only get 10 of them every year.

Interview conducted and condensed by Anna Mazarakis ’16