Updated at 10 p.m. with new photos from the competition Friday.
O’FALLON, Ill. — The thundering roars of fans and fight songs in football stadiums fell silent last year due to the pandemic, but the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band is back to bringing music to the gridiron.
When they're not playing for the home crowd at football games, you can find the Marching Panthers spending hundreds of hours each season perfecting their halftime performance.
This weekend they will compete against nearly 60 other high school marching bands in the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional. The annual event is happening this Friday and Saturday at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis.
Brandon Snyder, a senior trombonist in the marching band, said being able to compete once again has been a highlight of his senior year.
“We’re pretty much back to the norm that we were at two years ago,” he said. “It feels really great after what we’ve been through as a band.”
The O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band is a powerhouse among marching bands in the St. Louis area.
The group was a 2018 Bands of America Grand National finalist — one of the 12 top-scoring high school marching bands in the country — and has appeared in multiple college bowl games and parades over the years. On New Year's Day, the band will represent the state of Illinois in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.
O’Fallon Township’s field show this year is called “Rewriting Reality” and features music by Elton John, and '80s synth-pop band A-ha, as well as original music by Cirque Du Soleil percussionist and composer Aaron Guidry.
Many people may imagine competitive marching band performances are something like they might see in a parade or a scene from the 2002 film “Drumline,” but that isn't quite right.
O’Fallon Township High School band director Melissa Gustafson Hinds said the performances include many aspects of the arts such as music, theater and dance, adding it’s like a “fine arts production that’s very outside, [and] has a lot of athletic ability, creativity, emotion — all of these things.”
There are some moments in a live performance that cannot be replicated anywhere else, said Snyder, the trombonist.
“You hit the final note — the last sustained note is just beautiful. It's glorious, and it just kind of rings out. Then there’s that silence for a couple of seconds and then everyone erupts and they start cheering,” he said. “It’s absolutely exhilarating, and I’ve really never experienced anything else quite like that last hit of a show.”
You can purchase tickets to the 2021 Bands of America Super Regional Championship at musicforall.org.
More photos of the O'Fallon Township Marching Panthers: