Soudners FC

More on the Sounders FC Band Move

All of this tension over a little marching band …

May 6, 2009

Reaction to the Sounders FC front office’s decision — which came after repeated requests from the Emerald City Supporters — to move the Sound Wave marching band out of the general admission area of Qwest Field and into the Hawk’s Nest at the north end of the stadium is trickling in. I talked to Miles Ward, one of Sound Wave’s tuba players, a couple hours ago, and he’s not happy. "We’re all kind of scratching our heads about it," he said. "I don’t understand where one group of people gets off telling another group of people — when they’re both just trying to have fun — how to have their fun."

The argument all along from ECS members has been that the band would drown out their chants and make it impossible to create the kind of atmosphere they thought was appropriate for a soccer game. "The official position of ECS has never been anti-band," says one of ECS’s leaders, Greg Mockos. "We just had an issue with their location." (Of course, there were also those who were so beside-themselves livid about the idea that the club had the nerve to screw with soccer tradition by adding a marching band that they hoped Qwest would "get burnt to the ground," but hey, they only said that out of love for the game.) "The band made no effort to learn our songs or learn soccer songs," says Mockos, who claims he sat in about 15 meetings with people from the front office over the last couple months to discuss the situation. "No offense, but Top 40 songs during a soccer match? There’s no place for that, regardless of the kind of atmosphere you want to generate."

Ward, for his part, says the Sound Wave did try to reach out to ECS. "We’ve written songs and asked if they want to play them," he says. "We’ve learned their chants. We’re trying to do what we can to participate, but they have a very single-minded concept of what it means to go to a soccer game."

I can’t help but wonder whether the band is going to run into the same problem at the other end of the stadium, where the North End Supporters sit, but founder Joe Thomas said in an email that he’s "very pleased" the band is moving to the north end. "I believe that through teamwork, the Sound Wave will help to increase the intense atmosphere the NES and the rest of the north end have been creating," he wrote. And Ward says he’s heard more or less the same thing from fans who sit in the north end.

So the great Battle of the Band is over, and that’s probably a good thing. But it is an interesting demonstration of the power that a group of less than a thousand people who sit in $16 seats can wield over the multi-billion-dollar Vulcan management team that runs the Sounders. Mockos says that’s "sportstocracy" at work. "I don’t want to seem arrogant," he says, "but when you’re successful — and ECS has been a success — people are going to listen."

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