For any freshmen or newcomers to Penn State who have yet to experience a Penn State football game in all of its glory, you may quickly realize everyone else is singing along with songs you have no prior experience with.
The fact of the matter is that the songs the Blue Band performs before and during the game or that blast through the PA system in Beaver Stadium highlight some of the strongest traditions tied to Penn State football.
If you have never been to a football game in Happy Valley before this weekend — much as I hadn’t before witnessing the Nittany Lions triumph over Buffalo in 2015 — you may find you don’t really know how or why people are being prompted to sing and cheer.
We’re here to placate any concerns about these proud musical traditions synonymous with Penn State football.
Band Pregame Show
The band pregame show is often missed by a large cohort of students that are consuming as much alcohol as humanly possible before stumbling into the stadium. These students inevitably miss the opening ceremonies as the lines to get into the stadium start to back up as game time approaches.
In my opinion, however, the band pregame show sets the mood for the rest of the game, is very easy to partake in, and is way more fun with a packed student section. And it’s really difficult not to get swept up in feelings of school pride as the stadium joins together to create an exciting atmosphere.
In order to get a sense for the pregame show, you may want to watch this video. It shows a typical Blue Band show in its entirety and covers many of the songs that I’ll mention.
The Nittany Lion starts it all off by eliciting cheers from each side of Beaver Stadium. The drum line then makes it way onto the middle of the field, soon followed by the rest of the band out of the tunnel. During this routine, the band is playing what is called “Lion Fanfare.”
At this point, the crowd will sing something along the lines of “Woahhhhhh, woahhhh, woahhhhh, let’s go state!” The drum major also makes way down the center of the band twice, ending his runs with front flips and splits — much to the delight of the crowd.
The Blue Band then gets in formation to play the National Anthem — pretty standard sporting stuff. Following the Star Spangled Banner, the band generally does some sort of tribute to the opposing team — involving the opposition’s fight song — before breaking into “Victory.”
The most memorable part about “Victory” as a fan is the “We Are Penn State!” line that comes toward the end of the song. Like most of the Blue Band songs, there are, in fact, lyrics.
Fight On, State
The highly-recognizable Penn State fight song — Fight On, State — is next up in the pregame lineup. There are some lyrics you may want to learn in case you feel like singing along as a good portion of the crowd does. The fight song is definitely one of the more well-known songs in terms of lyrics.
Fight On, State will get stuck in your head, so consider yourself warned.
Here’s one that every freshman experienced during convocation. The Alma Mater may be the most controversial song in Penn State sports, as many fans have absolutely no idea what the lyrics are without the help of a prompter — and even then, some people just kind of wing it.
But, anyway, make your school proud by familiarizing yourself with the lyrics so you won’t have to fake your way through years of singing the Alma Mater. Just remember the third verse (“When we stood at childhood’s gate…”) is quieter than the first two. Then, you really have to belt out the last verse (“May no act of ours bring shame…”).
Also, right before breaking into the first verse of the Alma Mater, students yell “Left!” This cry from the student section is just an indication that, when swaying from side to side, you sway to the left first.
Floating Lions Drill
The band will break into the Floating Lions Drill, the trademark drill of the Blue Band. As they spell “LIONS” and make their way down the field, the band plays “The Nittany Lion,” with lyrics you can see here.
The band will head back in the other direction, playing “Fight On, State” once again. It’s all pretty exciting stuff.
Let’s Go PSU (The Hey Song)
This song is one that will give you goose bumps. The Blue Band creates a pathway for the Nittany Lions, led by James Franklin, to run through on their way out of the tunnel. Before the team emerges, though, a cheerleader will be given a microphone and yell some stuff about the game. Most importantly, he’ll ask, “Are you ready for Penn State football?” That is how you will know that the Blue Band is about to perform a rendition of “The Hey Song.”
There is no way properly explaining how fantastic this chant is in writing. I suggest you simply watch below or at the end of the first video in this story.
Popular Stadium Songs
First and foremost, you will begin to realize that Kernkraft 400 by Zombie Nation — a song which Penn Staters just refer to as “Zombie Nation” — plays more times than you can count. The song, which is essentially synonymous with Penn State football, plays when the team comes out of the tunnel. It also plays after every touchdown. And then about 100 more times.
Seven Nation Army
The Blue Band will hype up the crowd with “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes throughout the game. In fact, Penn State is credited with bringing this now-iconic song to the grand stage of sports.
Livin’ On A Prayer
Usually as halftime approaches, this famous Bon Jovi song is blasted through the speakers. It’s a nice little play on words that gets the crowd singing loudly.
This one is way out of the vocal range of many fans, sounding more like shrieking than singing.
“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond is another song I’d suggest familiarizing yourself with to immerse yourself in the Penn State experience.
Sweet Caroline is a big song late in the game, and when you sing along, you really can’t resist the good feels.
Crazy Train, We Will Rock You, and New Level will blast throughout the stadium both before the team makes its way out of the tunnel, but they are more typical stadium songs. Also listen for “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival if it’s raining (which it very well may be).
All in all, there can be a lot of musical tradition to take in during your first game as a fan in Beaver Stadium. Hopefully, the tradition makes a little more sense now.