On Wednesday night, Matt and I went up to Milwaukee to take in the Brewers-Twins game with my family. I hadn’t been to a game in a while and was really intrigued by the diversity of sounds and music there. One of the Brewers’ aural hallmarks is, of course, the singing of “Roll Out the Barrel” (aka the “Beer Barrel Polka”) at the seventh inning stretch, which is accompanied by dancing polka (!!):
And as per usual at baseball games, each player chooses a song that will play when he comes up to bat. These tended to be hit songs with a prominent, fast beat–rock, hip-hop (the most aurally prominent song being Lil Wayne’s “A Milli,” I believe) and reggaeton (chosen by Alcides Escobar, originally from Venezuela).
This was nothing, however, compared with the sound effects used to try to get the crowd excited. Like many teams, the Brewers have had an organist forever to play the sequenced “Charge!” melody and arrangements of popular songs here and there. This time, I was surprised to find a much larger array of synthesized sounds, coordinated with bright, flashing graphics on the screens that circle the stadium. The speakers played the rhythm that people generally clap (long-long-short-short-short) to get people making noise; a swooshing sound played along with the quintessentially Midwestern message “How about that one, folks!” when a Brewer had an especially good hit; and various plays were emphasized with sound effects, lightning-bolt graphics and other messages.
I personally found this a bit disorienting. The Miller Park (and before that, County Stadium) I had been used to typically only had the organist, a few recorded songs, the national anthem and whatever noise the crowd wanted to make. This game–despite the fact that the roof was open–was a much louder baseball experience than I’ve had in a while, and one that seemed much more manipulated. Brewers crowds are not typically as loud, in my experience, as others I’ve seen (especially in Philly and Boston!). I was bothered by the constant aural demands coming from the stadium; it felt forced and annoying to me.
Nonetheless, no one seemed obviously disturbed by this. The rhythms coming over the speakers were generally successful in getting people to cheer, which energized the atmosphere. And “How about that one, folks!” provided endless amusement for Matt, who isn’t used to Midwestern customs yet. I’d be interested to hear more about how and why the Brewers chose these sounds.