Talladega Nights

Perhaps it was expressed in their opening salvo from this year's Bacchus: They live for the applause.

I can sheepishly admit that when Talladega College was invited to this year's Honda Battle of the Bands, I needed a refresher on exactly who they were. Perhaps more accurately, I needed a fresher; the Marching Tornadoes were, after all, in just their third season at the time of the invitation. While I'm well-versed in the bands of the MEAC, SWAC, CIAA, and SIAC, Talladega hails from the NAIA's Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. But despite that, the college of just 1,500 students located a dozen miles south of the eponymous superspeedway fields a band that has been turning heads since they stepped on the scene.

I've made the metaphor before in other venues, but is the Marching Tornadoes Boise State of black college marching? Fans would tell you they took it to Southern at last year's Bacchus during Mardi Gras (Human Jukebox members would quickly point out it wasn't their full band) and in the video above, they seemed to serve up all the 'Box could handle this year as well. While both bands pull from a diverse repertoire, opening an HBCU battle of the bands with Lady Gaga is certainly a bit of a Statue of Liberty play. And like Boise State, Dega has been consistently punching above its weight. The only thing that remains to be seen is if they have the longevity to continue playing with the big boys.