Well, everybody, it is hate week once again. As we prepare for the clash between the Boilers and Hoosiers tomorrow night, I figured I would share a story about an oft-discussed component of basketball games in Mackey Arena: Hail Fire – otherwise known as the IU sucks song. This musical snippet has been played by the band for years; I recall the All-American Marching Band performing this tune at football games at least as far back as the Brees era. Maybe it’s been around longer, but I don’t know. Hail Fire is a mashup between typical Latin brass melodies and our fight song. But how did this short clip become a talking point between Purdue fans and the rest of the Big Ten/Country? Well, after the jump is the story as I understand it.
Hail Fire is only played by a few sections in the band, leaving the majority of the group to perform the accompanying dance. Now, even though I’m a well-established band geek, I am not so blind as to think the dance isn’t a little dorky. Whatever, it is what it is .A few years ago, higher ups in the Paint Crew must have thought so, too, and came up with an idea to "kill" the song at basketball games, hoping that the dance would die along with it.
In the past, the band has been prohibited from playing certain tunes to which the students added the "IU Sucks!" lyric, most notably Rock & Roll Part II (The Hey Song). [ As a side note, it’s been only recently that this song has been re-allowed into the band’s repertoire.] Because of this, the aforementioned higher ups thought that if they added "IU SUCKS!" to the end of Hail Fire, administration would come down on the band, the song would be prohibited in Mackey, and the dance would be no more. Fortunate for everybody, though, the newfound addition actually stuck. It caught on with such vigor that other members of the Paint Crew learned and performed the dance before emphatically yelling "IU SUCKS!" More and more Paint Crew members joined in the fun, and today the entire student section, as well as some alumni in the other seats, joins the band during the appropriate second-half media timeout.
So, the next time some Crimson-clad whistle blower calls attention to this song with something like "Why are you guys so pathetic that you have to cheer ‘IU SUCKS’ every game?" you could maybe respond: "By accident?"
Go Boilers! Hail Purdue!