MarchFourth!: Freaky, funky, vaudevillian, traveling weirdos

by DGO Web Administrator

Gone are the days when small-town America would occasionally get an unexpected group of traveling weirdos that pull into your town and set up camp. Maybe it was a vaudeville act bringing song, dance and magic, or perhaps a traveling circus complete with clowns, acrobats and animals zipping down your main drag one by one. Soon after, a tent is constructed, rigged games are set up and you’ve got a circus in your town.

Or maybe it was a couple selling magic elixirs, which was really alcohol disguised as a youthful energy drink. All of these situations were played out in Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show,” and they were glorious.

The closest we get to any of that these days is when a band like MarchFourth! pulls into town. Band leader and bass player John Averill acknowledges all of those similarities to his decade-old band, realizing he’s got a modern, funky take that fuses horn-driven funk music with the eye-candy of a traveling freak show from early America.

The 13-piece band and its costumed, juggling, stilt-walking, acrobatic entertainers will perform Saturday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

They’ve dropped the term “marching band” from their title. Although they originally began as a pseudo marching band for a Mardi Gras party, they’ve always been more than a take on a high school or college pep band supporting a football game.

“It’s a giant funk band with some performers mixed in there. We call ourselves ‘MarchFourth!’ now because the marching band thing is really misleading,” said Averill. “We don’t march that much and we never played marching band music. We have evolved; we have a lot more guitar and a lot more vocals right now. We add a visual party, and try to break down that fourth wall of the audience, to create an inclusive experience.”

The breaking down of that fourth wall is what creates a visually-stimulating, musically-satisfying rock concert and theatrical experience. Take the up-beat, horn-driven styling of any street band kicking around New Orleans, add in circus performers, throw in some outlandish wear that could come from the closet of a court jester, Burning Man attendee, uniformed second line, steam punk pimp or prostitute and combine it with the unpredictability of Funkadelic and you’ll be dangerously close to what MarchFourth! does. It’s celebrated musical and visual chaos contained within a rowdy party with all of your weirdest friends, the ones you weren’t allowed to hang out with as a teen. After local shows in the old Summit and Animas City Theatre, the band may finally have a large enough stage in the Community Concert Hall to host their extravaganza. The dance floor will also be open.

MarchFourth! spent last spring in The Big Easy recording its next record with Galactic’s Ben Ellman. Look for that to drop in the fall of 2016.

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. [email protected].


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