MarchFourth, a 20-person marching band that mixes vaudeville and a touch of circus, filled the Cedar last night in Minneapolis, and not just in terms of the audience. The group itself filled the Cedar’s sizable stage with personnel who, in turn, filled the venue with a raucous mix of jazz, funk, hoots and hollers.
It was one of the few times outside of Electric Forest where I feel like I’ve been magically transported to the Hangar or Carnival Club. It seems like an egregious oversight that they have yet to make an appearance.
At the beginning of their set, they announced that mother nature had been working against them for the past couple days. A winter storm had prevented them from reaching Fargo in time for their show the night before. They wound up a little late for this show as well, which meant we all got to experience a 20-person soundcheck. But it was worth it.
The ensemble’s garb was a bit like if you gathered marching band gear from a hundred different thrift stores, then went HAM on them with sequins and glitter. Many of the outfits, their hats in particular, would be at home on the playa at Burning Man.
The collective didn’t seem to feature a single leader at the helm. Rather, they passed the bandleader baton around and shared the duty between four or five members.
Every few songs, a pair of women would take the stage performing feats not unlike things I’ve seen at a Timberwolves halftime show. They tacked chairs on chairs, adding more chairs and performing handstands until their feet grazed the ceiling of the old movie theater. They climbed up and were tossed about by a stilt walker and performed pole dancing up a pole supported by the aforementioned stilt walker. Their performances kept the crowd engaged and allowed the musicians a little bit of a break.
A highlight came with their cover of Chicago’s 1970 hit “25 or 6 to 4,” which featured a very crisp performance from the horn section and a chorus that got everybody singing along, even if they didn’t know the right words (Ahem: me).
The show climaxed in a call and response number led by their bass player and one of their trumpet players (trumpetists?) with an appearance late in the song from a cheerleader T-Rex. Because why not? Big dinosaur, tiny arms, tiny pom-pom’s.
For their final song, they made their way, one-by-one, from the stage out into the audience. They eventually gathered in the middle of the crowd and formed a circle around which everybody bopped and danced and threw their arms up in a moment that would have felt very much at home in New Orleans. I almost wanted to ask, “Where’s the funeral?”
If you are in the Chicago area, I HIGHLY recommend hitting up their show on St. Patrick’s Day. If you have plans already, that’s fine, just cancel them and head to Martyrs’ instead. It’ll be worth it, I promise.