MarchFourth is not your father’s marching band

MarchFourth is not your father’s marching band
MarchFourth will play a 21-and-over show at The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach Jan. 22. Tickets are available at bellyup.com. Photo by Merrick Chase

SOLANA BEACH — Patrick Macgill once said “Every battalion has its marching songs,” and now our generation of concert-going music lovers has its marching songs.  We have MarchFourth to thank for that!

Remember your high school marching band? Well this is nothing like it.

Imagine watching one of your favorite team’s football games and casually observing the halftime show where the marching band bumbles its way through a mediocre performance, when suddenly a rogue group a`la Lisa Simpson in the opening credits of the Simpsons, breaks formation, plays their own funkier, fresher style of music, and marches off into the sunset with a crew on stilts, unicycles, and fire breathers.

Then you might be getting close to understanding MarchFourth’s dynamic and groundbreaking style of performance-based music.

Plenty of rock groups have played with marching bands; Gwen Stefani, Fleetwood Mac, Beirut, f.u.n., My Chemical Romance, OKGo, to name a few, but there hasn’t been a musical group of note in history that WAS the marching band.

This is that band!

Hailing from Portland Ore., MarchFourth has been performing together for over a decade since their formation on Fat Tuesday in 2003.

These seasoned professionals are still as full of energy as they were the day they started, storing up energy between shows and unleashing it on delighted fans across the country.

Their music has been described as funk, rock, jazz, swing, cinematic, theatrical, carnival, circus, and more.

With a traveling troupe of 21 people and featuring a percussion section, a horns unit, electric bass and electric guitar, these guys are as much about performance as they are about music.

I’m reminded of a music festival I went to some years back where I watched a then relatively unknown band named Arcade Fire mesmerize the audience with a mix of frantic activity, stealing and playing each other’s instruments, and exuding vibrant energy from every part of the stage, my good friend described the troupe as “a pack of whirling dervishes,” and I get the sense MarchFourth has the same type of energy as that group.

So are they a marching band? No. At least not in the traditional sense. And this has led to confusion among people unfamiliar with their act.

John Averill, the band leader informed us that MarchFourth will be removing the “marching band” from the group’s official name, but not the spirit.

It’s a hard job explaining what you do when you’re carving a new niche in modern music, and marching band doesn’t cut it.

They are known more affectionately by their followers as “M4,” a name that has been with them since their formation.

Their schedule has been as jam packed as their shows, so they’ve been trying to write music on the road. Coming off a performance at the Telluride Fire Festival, MarchFourth will be making their way to the BellyUp Tavern in Solana Beach this week for what is sure to be an invigorating show.

After this tour, Averill says that the band plans to sit down and start recording a highly anticipated fourth album to follow up their 2011 release of “Magnificent Beast.”

It’s usually sad when the marching band is better than the football team, but not in this case — skip the Super Bowl, watch MarchFourth.

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