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UCLA

UCLA band gets some 'Satisfaction' opening for the Rolling Stones

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By Cynthia Lee

Published May 6, 2013 2:35 PM


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Mick Jagger has been lamenting for the last 47 years that he "can't get no satisfaction." On a star-studded Friday night, the UCLA Bruin Marching Band got plenty from 19,000 rabid Rolling Stones fans on hand for the opening night of the Stones' "50 & Counting" tour at the Staples Center arena in Los Angeles.

With gold capes flying and tubas bobbing, 54 members of the UCLA band opened the Stones’ concert with a surprise appearance. Wild cheers and thundering applause greeted the first notes of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" as the Bruins marched into the arena and boogied their way through the crowd. Among the concertgoers were Jack Nicholson, Eddie Murphy, Johnny Depp and Nicole Kidman.

Also in attendance was Bruins' head football coach Jim Mora, who tweeted:

For band members who weren’t even born when the Stones released "Satisfaction" in 1965, it was an indelible moment, immortalized by volumes of webpages packed with cellphone videos and photographs, accompanied by tweets and Facebook comments.

"Opening for the legendary Rolling Stones with the UCLA Bruin Marching Band in front of 19,000 screaming fans in the Staples Center has to be one of the greatest moments of my life!" wrote UCLA junior Josh Epport, a tuba player. "This is what it feels like to be a rock star!"

Josh Briggs, a freshman trumpet player, came close to making physical contact with one frenzied fan. "One woman literally tried to grab me at one point," he said. Being in the vortex of that kind of mass energy – "it was awesome," he noted. "The crowd was going crazy as we were playing and dancing in the aisles. The energy in the room was electric!"

"Once they realized we were playing 'Satisfaction,' the crowd went nuts!" wrote piccolo player Amanda Young, a senior. "As we made our way down the side aisles, people were singing along and their cameras on our faces. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience!"

The Bruin band, which kept the performance a secret until the concert, was invited to perform by Kenny Ortega, the director of choreography for the Rolling Stones tour. Once the marching band was booked, director Gordon Henderson worked on an arrangement of "Satisfaction," with assistant director Kelly Flickinger arranging parts for percussion.

Rehearsals began on campus before the first full rehearsal was held on Stage 30 at Sony Pictures in Culver City. One day before the May 3 concert, the band rehearsed the staging and choreography at Staples Center with Ortega and his assistant, choreographer Chuck Klapow. "It was definitely an unforgettable experience," wrote Keenan Burt, a sophomore trombone player.

The Rolling Stones Live

Band members adopted a "deconstructed" look for the concert – black jeans instead of the band uniform pants and a black-and-gold Rolling Stones T-shirt that was prominently worn with the band’s Bruin blue coats pinned open.

Anne Lum, a senior music major who plays the French horn, said she was notified two weeks ago about the concert and had to learn the music quickly. The real challenge was to keep playing while dancing "marching-band funk" as the crowd roared and excitement built, she said.

"We play at the Rose Bowl, but we have never really heard a crowd react that loud. … It was a breathtaking experience to hear people cheering us as we walked in," she said. While there are usually 270 band members playing in force at the Rose Bowl, "with only 54 of us there, we had to play to our fullest potential," Lum said.

Lum said she was familiar with "Satisfaction" from video games. "We definitely have heard of the Rolling Stones before in music classes. ... I hear their name in all my music industry classes, obviously," she said.

After their performance, band members were given seats so they could see the show, Lum said. Finally, she broke her silence by calling her parents to let them know. They were understandably "slightly jealous" and a little "upset that I didn’t tell them, but they were happy I had the experience."

This story was updated on May 8, 2013

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