by Kathleen Arens
Iowa City has a big bar scene, so it’s no surprise that people are drawn to it on weekends to show support for the Hawkeye football team. The Iowa City bar scene also draws musicians who are willing to work for beer.
A private group, known locally as the “beer band,” goes around the Iowa City pedestrian-mall Friday nights before football Saturdays. The beer band is not the typical band you expect to see at the bar.
“They go around the night before home games to the sports bars and play a couple of tunes that are fight songs and traditional Hawkeye songs,” says Nicole Petrancosta, a senior at the University of Iowa.
The 20-40 band members play music not for money, but in exchange for beer. They amp up fans throughout Iowa City as they go from bar to bar, visiting places such as Pints, Sports Column, Field House and Brothers. The beer band is notorious for playing the song, “In Heaven there is no Beer.”
“The bar gets really crowded, but one guy gets on top to instruct the band, and everyone gets into it,” says Petrancosta. “My friend likes the band a lot and makes us follow them.”
The beer band is not officially sanctioned by the University of Iowa although some of the beer band members are members of the University of Iowa marching band. It is simply a unique tradition attributed to Iowa City. Encountering the band on a Friday night before a Saturday game amps people up, and allows fans another chance to experience the Hawkeye spirit.
“The band boosts moral,” says Petrancosta. “Especially the night before a game.”