When Portland’s MarchFourth rolls into town, it’s hard to miss them. First, there are nearly 20 members of the outfit, including 12 musicians, three dancer-performers and a four-person crew.
But then there’s the bus — complete with red, white and blue stripes and plenty of stars. It drew one comment from a gentleman in Detroit, who said he thought it was Donald Trump pulling into town.
“No, it’s the opposite,” laughs bassist / singer John Averill before adding, “America is still great.”
It is, especially when it can produce a group like this that epitomizes the country’s ability to deliver great music in the most unique of ways. And it’s hard to get more unique than this band, who will be on The Jewel ship on the Hudson river about an hour after you read this on Wednesday night, playing the Rocks Off concert cruise. Guess the rock and roll life is as glamorous as we’ve all heard.
“I wish our life could be that luxurious,” laughs Averill. But on a serious note, the band has been known to bring acrobats on stilts to their shows. That could be an issue on the Hudson River, or any river for that matter.
“The full show is mostly a big band playing, so the band doesn’t have a problem playing on a ship,” he said. “And on this particular tour, we don’t have any stilt acrobatics, but when we played another cruise we did, and those guys managed to not fall down.”
Call it just another day in the life of a band that also got started in a non-conventional manner.
“The band was really sort of an accident,” Averill said. “We put it together for a party, and it was a pretty big spectacle right out of the gate, and I think what happened is the spectacle bought us time to evolve into a good band. So now we don’t need the spectacle as much and there’s less of a spectacle.”
There is plenty of top-notch musicianship and an equal dedication to giving the paying folks as show for their hard-earned dollars.
“There’s still a lot of energy and we put it all out there,” he said. “There’s almost an athletic aspect to this band. The reason why we’re able to function together and get along is because there’s a team mentality. It’s not like a band with a bunch of entitled artists. We’re a team — we load in together, we load out together and there’s no hierarchy. And when we get on stage, it’s a very physical performance. So we put out a lot of energy, and when we get the energy back from the audience, it’s just building more energy, and that’s the goal.”
And though you can’t see it on their first album in over five years, Magic Number (available on September 30), you can hear it, and the evolution of the band is also evident, as they begin to incorporate more vocals into their attack.
“I definitely think that’s the future of the band, to have a lot more singing going on,” Averill said. “Mostly, I think the show is sold on being an experience. People say, ‘Oh, you’ve got to see this thing. I can’t really describe it, you’ve just got to see it.’ It’s a high energy, inclusive dance party essentially. We try to give more of an experience, and that’s what’s brought people in the door up to now. But we’re not a niche project. I think we really could appeal to just about everybody, but we’re gonna keep being ourselves and doing our thing.”
Not bad for a group started by accident.
“The house band is getting a lot better,” he laughs.
MarchFourth plays the Rocks Off Concert Cruise in NYC tonight, September 14. Boarding is at 7pm and the ship sails at 8pm. For more information, click here
For more information on MarchFourth, click here