Why Capo Corner?
There are 14 matches played each week. All of them have 22 men battling on the pitch for the W. But when that battle takes place in the soccer cathedral that is Q2 Stadium, something special happens.
This is created by individuals doing their part to encourage Verde boys. The purpose of this recurring series is to tell the stories of the people who create these vibes so that the supporter culture of Austin FC continues to grow deep and wide.
Meet Marc Tost
- Capo since: 2019
- Originally from: Osnabrück, Germany & Rochester, MN.
- Favorite Ausin FC Player: Diego Fagundez
- Favorite Austin beer: 512 IPA
- Favorite Austin FC match: Vs SKC, last game of 2021
- Alter ego: Particle Physicist
How Marc Became a Capo
Marc and I sat down in Mueller on a sunny afternoon to find out if Bao’d Up in the wild is as good as it is in the southeast corner of Q2 Stadium, and to learn about the story behind his capoing.
Marc has been cheering for Austin FC since 2019. That’s not a type-o! Two years before a ball was ever kicked at Q2, Marc had just moved to town to start grad school, and he didn’t know anyone; but that didn’t stop him from taking his trumpet to the park to start practicing songs with 20 other musicians that would later become La Murga de Austin.
As they started working out the words to the first songs (like “Alright, Alright, Alright”) that would eventually define the gameday experience for so many fans, they realized that they didn’t have anyone dedicated to making sure the singers are syncing up with the musicians.
So Marc put down the trumpet and picked up the bullhorn. The capo corp was born all the way back in 2019, with Marc being one of OGs of that group, along with Jay, Ray, Kirk and Anthony. They decided it would be a win/win if they started attending UT Women’s soccer games to (A) sing for 90 minutes, and to (B) work out the mechanics of how to communicate over large areas to big groups of supporters.
But Marc’s capo journey actually started decades earlier as a boy attending games in Germany in one of the most famous supporters sections on the planet: Die Gelbe Wand, the “Yellow Wall” of Borussia Dortmund (Click here to see it in action). When his immigrant parents would go home to visit, they would take the much smaller Marc to be a part of the 75,347 square foot section that is always packed with at least 25,000 yellow-covered supporters (over 5x what fits into the south end of Q2).
According to Marc, the scale of Dortmund’s supporters section is just “comically massive.” “It’s standing only, and it’s just a wall of concrete steps packed with people “when you’re there, you’re physically touching 3 or 4 people at any given time.” According to Marc, “It’s a lot more.. Maybe unpleasant is the word for it; but that adds to it – we’re not here having fun, you know? This is tense and intense.”
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Q & A
AR: Does that ethos (you’re not there to have fun) influence your ability to suffer through capoing?
MT: “I think so. It’s still fun. But it’s a different kind of fun. I think a lot of the other capos would agree that to some extent it’s work.”
AR: It looks like work from where I’m sitting! I was telling my newbie friend this past weekend and pointing you guys out, and he was like ‘They pay to do that? They buy a ticket? It’s crazy!’
MT: “It doesn’t make any damn sense. We pay a lot of money to look specifically not at what we’re paying to see. But it’s fun in the the way that this is how I can help, right? I don’t have the skill that Jeremiah [Bentley] has to make a podcast, or even how WeAreAustinTV spreads the community that way.“
“But during the game I can make sure we’re as loud as possible. That’s how I can make sure Austin is a soccer city. That’s my small part to play. And I take extreme pride in being able to do that. It’s fantastic. This is what I looked up to as a kid. So having the opportunity to do it here is really nice.”
AR: What does a good night of capoing look like for you? How do you define success?
MT: “For me so much of why I like being a capo now… I feel like that’s how I can help: the organization. I’m happy if after the game, if you can say we made the right decisions on the songs that we like chilled out in the ebbs and then we pushed when we needed to push. There’s, there’s obviously moments like that where you call a song and we start it, and it’s like, ah s*** that doesn’t match the vibes.”
“If we can pick the right songs when we need to, to pick them and then have all the capos as a team be in unison; and bringing the people in when they need to start singing, when they need to stop singing… how to work with the band, keeping everything kind of coherent. So we can be as big and as loud as possible.”
How the Sausage Gets Made
These answers surprised me and they got me curious about all the logistics that go into how the songs go live during a match. It turns out that only the first 3 songs are pre-scripted, and then Drum Captain Kurt sorts out the next song with the capo standing with the band, who then uses hand signals to alert the other 6 capos what’s next (two in the capo stand at the bottom of each section).
If you’re like me, and you’re wondering how all that works, capo leadership is made of 3 elected members who distribute the sign up sheet each week, and the capos volunteer if they’re available. In the first season that was an all game commitment, but now that there’s enough capos, they only have to work one half and then enjoy the other half.
AR: What was your favorite moment in the capo stand?
MT: The Western Conference Semi-final versus FC Dallas last year. I was in 103 (center section) for the first half of that game. That was really special. It was just so much energy. People just cared so much. It was loud that night… that was a fun game!
AR: I think based on the popularity of Ted Lasso, there have been calls to have player-specific chants (a la Roy Kent), how hard is it to pitch new songs to La Murga and get them into the rotation?
MT: “Pitching is easy, [but] getting it into the rotation… it’s a lot more work than folks realize to do a full La Murga song, right? We have like 6 or 7 different instruments that all need to write and learn their own parts. And especially because La Murga is a volunteer band, there’s something like half La Murga learned their instruments to be part of La Murga.”
“We have absolutely brilliant musicians, but we have plenty of people that are not. And that’s good and great! So it takes a long time to get that going.”
“The player specific chanting isn’t new. We do have one for Diego that we haven’t played nearly as much recently. But Diego has a special place in a lot of our hearts because in the early days when we used to practice in the parking lot in front of the stadium when it was under construction… he would pretty consistently come to practice and like hang out. Between that and the first ever team goal… He earned that.”
“We’re actually working on a couple of new songs right now, but it’s months of work.” While the capos are working on the lyrics in meetings and text threads, the band leaders are figuring out the parts for each instrument, which key it should be in, and what kind of drum rhythms work. “There’s a lot of moving parts!”
“In England they can be more flexible with chants and inventing new songs because it’s just voices.”
AR As a physicist, what are the acoustical design elements that make Q2 better than some of those cavernous NFL stadiums where you’ve seen other MLS teams play in?
MT: “I know enough that a low metal roof seems to help. A low metal roof is loud as F***!”
It was a free-ranging conversation with a lot of laughs, and I tried to include a lot of that flavor. But in the interest of brevity, I tried to stick to the elements that show how smart Marc is, and just how pure and heartfelt his passion for the game and the Verde is.
Thanks for being one of our capos Marc!
All Photos Credits to the awesome work of Katie Ensign!