It's no secret music plays a big part in sports. Athletes have playlists to get them in the zone. Stadium staff use certain songs as "crowd control" to keep fans entertained during time outs and to hype things up in critical moments.
Few songs have the "hype factor" as an instrumental created by Darude, a Finnish DJ.
"Sandstorm" has been a staple of Gamecock sports since 2009.
Sure, it had been played at other venues by other team, to varying degrees of success. In fact, Eric Nichols, South Carolina's chief marketing and branding officer, tried using "Sandstorm" to rile up Vandy fans during his stint with the Commodores. It didn't work. But one fan's trash is another fan's excuse to jump up and down while frantically waving a towel in the air.
"Sandstorm" had even been played at William Brice before. But not like it was on a late September evening in 2009 when No. 4 Ole Miss was in Carolina. The Gamecocks were up 16-10 that night and with 1:39 left to play, the Rebels faced a key third-and-12. Over the crowd and announcer commentary (for those watching at home) the opening notes could barely be heard, but Gamecock fans knew what to do. "A rave breaks out in Columbia," ESPN announcer Chris Fowler said as fans and players jumped up and down (the towels would come later).
Carolina's defense sacked Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead. So before fourth down, "Sandstorm" played again. Willy B rocked again. Snead threw an incompletion. The Gamecock beat a top 5 team at home. "Sandstorm" would remain on the playlist.
It was Nichols who added "Sandstorm" to the Gamecocks playlist in the first place. According to an 2021 ESPN interview, "We played it again, just back to back," he said. "In all my time, I've never done that before, and it just kind of kept the party going."
And it's been keeping the party going ever since. To the point that the song has become synonymous with the Gamecocks.
Yet in all this time, the song's creator hasn't had the pleasure of witnessing the effect of "Sandstorm" on a crowd at Williams Brice stadium. As he told ESPN's Dave Wilson, "Obviously, I would love to catch that kind of crowd, playing for them live," he said.
We're thrilled to change that. Oh, did we bury the lede? Well, like "Sandstorm" slowly builds up to its 136 BPM tempo, we wanted to build up to the big announcement.
Harrison's and Ariat have partnered with LEARFIELD'S Gamecock Sports Properties to bring Darude to perform a pre-game set for the November 18th home game versus Kentucky. Darude will perform a one-hour set in Gamecock Village and will then serve as the celebrity starter, leading the GAME-COCKS chant before Cocky's entrance.
Read the full Gamecock Athletics press release here.