Friday and Saturday night were event-filled for those who were able to be in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. These two days marked the 44th occurrence of the Bayou Classic that features one of the most popular rivalries in Louisiana—Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA and Grambling State University located in Grambling, LA. Nola.com estimates that each year this event brings in $50 million, so a big crowd is expected every year.
At 6:00 p.m. Friday night, the doors opened for the students, fans, and alumni to experience the beginning of the Bayou Classic. On the schedule for the night was the McDonald’s Greek show followed by the Battle of the Bands, presented by the U.S. Marine Corp. Attendance for the night’s outing was terrible Bernard Penn said.
“I arrived right on time, and I found out very quickly that was a mistake,” he said. “The line to be checked by security and then into the Superdome was wrapped around the building. Luckily, I saw somebody I knew near the front, so I hopped in with them. I missed the Greek show, so I was not happy about that.”
Penn is currently a junior student at Grambling State. Each year he looks forward to November because of the annual event. Unfortunately for him though, he missed the Greek show because it started on-time. He was able to see the bands of the two universities, which he found exciting.
He was once an athlete that played football in high school, but seeing these bands play makes him wish he played an instrument.
“Usually people go to specific schools because they were recruited to play a sport or for academics,” he explained. “People go to Grambling State or Southern to be apart of bands that are two of the most popular HBCU (historically black colleges and univerisities).”
The rivalry between the two universities especially when it pertains to sports is taken very seriously. However, there is a definite mutual respect between the two parties Penn thinks. Many family members attended all events or at last one. Penn believes this is what makes the atmosphere of the Bayou Classic so enticing—friendly family feuds.
While the Battle of the Bands is a competition between the bands, there are not any judges to dictate a winner. However, Penn thinks it is usually obvious who the winner is. This year’s undecided winner of the Battle of the Bands was Southern Penn painfully admitted.
Penn attended Saturday’s events as well. He was unable to attend the Fan Fest, but made it to the football game. The Fan Fest showcases hip-hop and R&B artists such as T.I. and Jacquees. This was a free event for the public that lasted about four hours.
Thirty-minutes after the Fan Fest ended, was the kickoff of the football game. Tremaine Chatman who may be a future Grambling Tiger said that it was announced that the game had an attendance of over 66,000 people!
“I wanted to sit at the top because the view of the entire field is better, but there were not enough empty seats,” he said. “We were in the 160 section, so we were fairly close to the field…and right in the Tiger’s student section.
Chatman enjoyed how each team had its own cheer that most, if not all of the fans participated in. He believed that Grambling’s band redeemed itself during the game, especially at the halftime show. The halftime show within the football game was considered to be a part of the Bayou Classic. While each football team went to its respective locker room, the bands both performed during the 20-minute intermission.
Southern’s band, also known as the Human Jukebox, may have won the fans over at the Battle of the bands but the Tigers’s band showcase at halftime generated more hype and response from the crowd according to fan Da’Monta Thomas.
“I think that Grambling State’s band knows that their performance Friday night was not the most exciting, but they brought it to the Southern Jaguars at the football game,” Thomas said.
In addition to the band’s take over, the football team defeated the Jaguars in a close game. The Tigers won 30-21, making it the third year in a row that they defeated Southern in the Superdome.
Thomas was just happy to see a competitive, close game this year. In the past, some of the games were simply boring because one of the teams were blown out.