The Spirit of Houston Cougar marching band (from the University of Houston) combined forces with Texas Southern University's Ocean of Soul marching band for the beginning of Sunday's Super Bowl halftime festivities, and as a result, approximately 15 DCI members and veterans took center stage in front of the 80,000-member crowd (and the tens of millions tuning in on television). In fact, Santa Clara Vanguard tenor player Brian Perez, who moonlights as the University of Houston's drum captain, began the whole extravaganza by "rolling off" songstress Jessica Simpson's portion of the program.

Part of the DCI squad that helped out with the Super Bowl halftime show. From left to right, Kurt Sheffer (Revolution), Brian Perez (SCV), Sean Sedlock (SCV), Lauren Lucero (Bluecoats), Preston Krienke (Cavaliers) and Tarren Vielma (Bluecoats).
"They (the MTV choreographers -- MTV produced the entire halftime show) realized they needed about four drummers to become part of a smaller unit to do the roll-off with Jessica Simpson. I am the drum captain here at the University of Houston, so I was one of those people," Perez said. "As soon as Jessica Simpson yelled, "Houston, choose to party!" or whatever it was, Brian Perez rolled us off, and we marched out to the tune of "The Way You Move" by Outkast. After that, we ran to the stages to watch the rest of the show on the field," added Super Bowl participant Sean Sedlock, also of the Santa Clara Vanguard and a member of the University of Houston drum line. Perez said Simpson was an accommodating star. "It was great. She was very nice and she signed my drum head for me and the other folks that did the roll-off at the beginning," Perez said, adding that he conversed with Simpson during the actual performance. "I did, in fact, talk to Jessica a few times -- one time to ask her if she played drums and another during the section in which we were dancing and moving to "The Way You Move,"" Perez said. Sedlock's brush with fame was a little more understated. "Unfortunately, I did not get to meet any of the performers, although I came within 10 feet of (rapper) Murphy Lee. He did not perform, but I'm sure he was there with Nelly," Sedlock said. Preston Krienke, who plays mellophone in the Cavaliers (and French horn in the University of Houston band) was stationed by a couple other musical notables. "P. Diddy and Janet Jackson walked by us and casually said hi," Krienke reported. The entire halftime process began last month. "In December, one of the directors from MTV called our marching band director (David Bertman, also a brass instructor with the Cavaliers) and asked him if we would be willing to perform in the halftime show. Of course he said yes," Sedlock said. "We started rehearsing a preview of our talent for the MTV people in early December. The marching band basically started the show," Sedlock said. Amazingly, the bands were called on to write their own drill for the show. "It wasn't one of those things where they told us what to do -- rather, we showed them what we could do and they picked what they wanted from those things," Perez said. Some rehearsals for the halftime show took place during the University of Houston's winter break. "The drum line actually rehearsed during our Christmas break and did some recordings and stuff to give the MTV people ideas for what we wanted to do," Perez said. "We started recording the second week of January, and starting the second week of school, Jan. 22, we started rehearsing the show. For the band, we rehearsed the show about four or five times, each rehearsal lasting approximately four hours," Sedlock said. Sedlock elaborated on the rehearsals. "Although the rehearsals became extremely boring and cumbersome, the final run-through was well worth it, to me. It was one of the most exciting 10 minutes of my life. Even though I've been performing in drum corps since 2000, I still got as excited as my first finals experience," Sedlock said. Krienke described the rehearsals as intense. "It was very chaotic. There was so much going on. But in the end it seemed put together pretty well," Krienke said. During these rehearsals, band participants would sometimes receive instruction from MTV choreographers, and at other points would receive instruction from the band directors. "It was unorganized," said Lauren Lucero, a Bluecoats mellophone player who plays French horn in the University of Houston band. "They were changing something all the time, but they were working together," Lucero said. Simply procuring and organizing the percussion equipment for this massive undertaking was a challenge. "There were three nights in a row where we were up until 2 a.m. putting all the drums together, changing drum heads, putting carriers together, fixing hardware and organizing the 20 snares, 12 tenors and 18 bass drums," Perez said. Overall, the DCI participants who took part in the Super Bowl were elated to participate. "It was an exciting experience, getting to see 80,000 people and all these celebrities," Krienke said. "All in all, I had the time of my life. I have never come into that close of contact with that many celebrities at one time," added Sedlock. Perez, meanwhile, noted the volume that the huge crowd and assembled performers combined to create. "It was so loud the entire time we were out there. As a performer, this was by far the biggest crowd I've ever performed for," Perez said. "It was the biggest rush! It was a lot of fun," added Lucero.