The MarchFourth Marching Band pulled out all the stops for their appearance at the 2014 Voodoo Music Experience.
The 11 piece band blasted through a high energy set on Saturday, November 1, that included stilt walkers, dancing, crowdsurfing, and a melding of the Rolling Stones song “Bitch” with the medley at the end of Abbey Road to close out the show.
The Portland, Oregon, based band has taken on a life of it’s own, according to bass player and founding member John Averill.
“We put the band together for a Fat Tuesday Party in 2003, and the date of Fat Tuesday was March 4th,” Averill said. “We just named the band after the date of the party. It was just going to be a party band, a one-off, but then it stuck.”
Eleven years later, MarchFourth is in the middle of a national tour that started in Athens, Georgia on October 22 and will take the band full circle back to the Pacific Northwest with a show in Seattle on February 28, 2015.
Voodoo proved to be a perfect end to the first leg of the tour, Averitt said, allowing the band to go into a month-long break on the back of a great show.
It didn’t even matter that the showtime had to be bumped up at the last minute from the original 7 p.m. time slot to 3:15 because of a friend of the band’s wedding that night.
The only drawback was a lack of sleep due to a Halloween night show that kept the band going almost all night long.
“We all got about four hours sleep,” he said. “We played after Fishbone at the Joy Theater last night, and they went on late, so we went on late. We went to bed at about 6 a.m. and woke up at about 10, and we had to do a little march thing at Voodoo at 1.”
And all of this comes at a time when the band is in transition from their earlier roots in mostly brass based music and a big band-style stage show to a more rock oriented show.
“I’ve always been pretty open about material, as long as it’s got a groove,” Averill said. “We played a lot of Eastern European Gypsy brass at first, so the rock and the American forms of music really really sort of came in over the past four years. We’re starting to incorporate more rock and jazz and funk. There are more vocals now, and it’s become more of a stage band. We’re actually dropping the ‘Marching Band’ from the name after the end of this year.”
The core of the eclectic band will always revolve around the high energy performances, even as the name and musical styles evolve.
That reliance on brass has opened the doors to a wide audience ranging in age from teenagers up to seniors, Averill said.
“I think the brass kind of harkens back to another time,” he said. “We’re kind of like a modern day big band, with our own little twist on things.”
When that “little twist” culminates with a trio of stilt walkers cruising through the crowd and gliding over audience members, everyone is sure to have a good time.
The Voodoo crowd certainly did.