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Digital Drops: Musical Memories of the 1990s and 2000s

Recent decades have seen big names on campus, from Pink Floyd to Bruce Springstein, but many Badgers still call the Varsity Band Concert their favorite show.

July 22, 2015
Audience clapping at a concert.

More Tune Time

What do JJ Watt, the UW Marching Band, and Pink Floyd have in common? They’ve all been met with resounding applause on the field at Camp Randall Stadium. That’s right: Camp Randall used to play host to rock concerts. Bands such as The Grateful Dead, U2, and Public Enemy tore up the field (figuratively and, perhaps, literally) from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. We believe that Madison has one of the greatest music scenes in the country, and your responses to our call for musical memories affirmed that belief loudly and clearly.

In this update, Badger grads of the ’90s and ’00s share their musical memories of campus.

Tom Shircel ’87 MS’92

Kenosha, WI

My #1 UW-Madison concert has to be the epic May 20, 1988 Pink Floyd performance at Camp Randall Stadium. It was it the very first Camp Randall rock concert, and to bring in Pink Floyd was amazing. I believe the band brought in about 60 semi-truck loads of equipment. The anticipation, buzz and hype leading up to the concert was unprecedented. To top it off, final exams were over and students were ready to party. My roommates and I lived on Jefferson Street, near Camp Randall. Two of my roommates had built a rocket to launch for the post-concert festivities. After the successful show, we all headed back to Jefferson Street for the rocket launching. After a couple failed attempts to light the rocket's fuse via standard methods, my roommates yelled "lets hook it up to the car battery!" Hearing that, the crowd scattered and took cover not knowing what to expect. The car battery rocket launch was successful; the rocket took off and landed in an unknown location. Great Pink Floyd concert and great memories.

Neal Englert '06

Durham, NC

My sophomore year, three friends and I decided to play open mic night at the Rathskeller. We had a couple jam sessions in vacant classrooms the week before to prepare and in the end, we rocked out an up-tempo jazzy blues thing that drew a crowd. We did it with an acoustic guitar, harmonica, piano, and me on a set of pots and pans I brought from my apartment!

Emily Rohrer Lenz ‘06

Chicago, IL

I absolutely adored the Varsity Band Concert. I went to my first one as a high schooler. My parents and my in-laws actually met for the first time at dinner before and during a Varsity Band Concert. I haven't been back for a concert since graduation...but sometime soon!

Bridget Maniaci ‘07


I worked as an arts writer and photographer for The Daily Cardinal 2003-07. I have a lot of music photos from campus. I'd be happy to share photos for your upcoming summer Badger Insider issue. Here's a link to my Flickr music portfolio from that era.

Top moments:

  1. Girl Talk at Club 770
  2. Dave Grohl & Bruce Springsteen at John Kerry 2004 rally
  3. Juliette Lewis at Club 770
  4. Andrew WK at Snake on the Lake Fest
  5. Fall Out Boy (Club 770 and what used to be Headliners)

Ian Batterman ‘09

Morgantown, WV

Being a former member of the UW marching band means that there are a lot of songs that bring back fond memories, from the medleys we played at halftime during football games to the iconic fifth quarter songs that every fan knows. The one song that brings back the most nostalgia for me is the band's version of the 1812 overture. And since the band recorded the song at the end of my senior year, I can listen to it anytime to get a dose of good college memories.

Christopher Smithka JD’09

Fitchburg, WI

I remember seeing an intimate Bon Iver show in the historic Music Hall at the foot of Bascom Hill in November 2007, as part of the (now extinct) Madison Pop Fest. Fronted by Justin Vernon, a Wisconsin native, Bon Iver has since played venues and festivals across the world and won two Grammy awards in 2012.

Joseph Lubin ‘11

Highland Park, IL

I was a member of the Marching Band. My favorite show we did was Sing Sing Sing, the popular jazz tune, which we played for halftime at the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl. I remember as we were finishing the song, we cut to half tempo and tap stepped forward. The whole crowd stood up in front of us, a solid wall of red rising up, and a roar that filled the stadium so much I could hardly hear us playing. That was for me, as Mike calls them, one of those Moments of Happiness

Nick Pjevach ‘13


My bedroom growing up was plastered with Badger decor until junior year of high school, when I vowed to not attend UW. My heart was set on venturing out East to study engineering. Around the same time, I developed an ear for indie folk, especially the Seattle band Fleet Foxes. Spring turned to summer and I found out my newest obsession had a concert at Memorial Union, for free no less! After an hour car ride, my then-girlfriend and I had dinner on State Street, explored Lakeshore Path, and walked onto the Terrace just as the sun was setting and glorious four-part vocal harmonies spread over the water. In that moment I decided Madison would not such a bad place to get an education. I also discovered the entire event was organized by the students of WUD Music. So enthralled by my limited time on campus, I wrote my application essay about joining WUD Music if I were to be accepted. Five years later, as I found myself at the helm of that very organization, I always wondered if there were any future Badgers in the audience.

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