The Marching Owl Band (aka The MOB or the Blues Band of South Main) is the Rice University “marching band” in the sense that it is the official ensemble that performs during football games, some basketball games, parades, and other public events. However, the MOB is not a traditional marching band, but rather a scatter band; members do not march, and some members play non-standard instruments (or no instrument at all). For example, in the most recent season these instruments included violins, violas, a cello, electric guitar, electric bass and electric piano. Extras known as Show Assistants are also a perennial inclusion in the MOB; these students play no instruments besides the kazoo (or an occasional didgeridoo), but are responsible for constructing and employing props in the half-time shows and acting out any mime or gag bits during performances. Rather than wear traditional marching band attire, The MOB instead dons pinstriped three-piece suits, ties, sunglasses, fedoras, and (in the case of Show Assistants) tommy gun props. (This attire is an obvious nod to the band’s acronym, though in practice falls somewhere between the style of Capone-era mobsters and the Blues Brothers.) The group is known for satirical football halftime shows which, as MOB director Chuck Throckmorton says, poke fun at rival universities’ sacred cows.
The MOB plays primarily classic rock-and-roll pieces, though blues, swing, funk, classical, and other styles are featured on various occasions. Its signature song is a rendition of “Louie Louie“, a hit from the 1960s originally performed by the Kingsmen. Other staples include “Bonnet” (adapted from “Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet“, 1909), the Rice University Fight Song (played after every Rice touchdown at football games), and “Turning it Loose” (a variation of the Otis Redding and Steve Cropper blues hit “I Can’t Turn You Loose” similar to the one used in the Blues Brothers).