Permagrin Music: MarchFourth Marching Band Live

I’m not sure when the last time was that I enjoyed a band so much. When MarchFourth Marching Band comes to town, it’s not just a band on a stage playing some songs. It’s a SHOW!

I just reviewed the MarchFourth album Magnificent Beast in the new issue of Perceptive Travel because it’s not really “world music” in the traditional sense, but it’s novel, which is what really gets our interest. Besides, if there’s a point of reference in this material it’s New Orleans—itself a musical gumbo of styles from many lands.

When I heard these guys were coming to Skipper’s Smoke House in my new home of Tampa, I simply had to get there. From the first note to the last, the sound was pumping and the fun never stopped. I’m not exaggerating when I say everyone seemed to be smiling the entire time the band was on stage. A permagrin crowd, with no chemical enhancement required.

The video posted here doesn’t give the band justice as it was just a point-and-shoot camera with no external mic, but it’s a nice little taste of what to expect. This is a big band: lots of drummers, sax players, trombones, trumpets, a bass guitar, and occasional electric guitar. Then there are three stilt dancers moving through the crowd, doing acrobatics, and breathing fire. Plus some burlesque dancers at one point. Half the band member have on pieces of discarded marching band uniforms, adding to the visual flair.

It’s worth noting that there are serious musicians behind all the fun. I was a music major in college and it’s obvious these guys (and gals) have had lots of training and formal practice. Talented band geeks turned rebels. When one of the horn players steps up to improvise a solo, you know it’s going to be a treat.

They’re on their way up to the northeast now after Atlanta, Charlotte, and Roanoke the next three nights, so check the tour dates to see if they’re headed your way. The band is from Portland, so if you’re out that way, sign up for their newsletter and catch them on their home turf. As for me, I’m hoping they play Jazzfest in New Orleans next time I go as that seems like the ultimate match.

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