Steamboat Springs A band named after its own birthday must love to celebrate.
And celebrate they do in a spectacular fusion of music, dance and visual arts in the spirit of free expression.
Nearly 10 years after its formation in Portland, Ore., the MarchFourth Marching Band will make its first appearance in Steamboat Springs on Friday in the final show of the 2012 Free Summer Concert Series.
The concert kicks off at 6 p.m. at Howelsen Hill with Billy Franklin Trio opening.
Then, MarchFourth takes the stage with more than 15 members including dancers, acrobats and stilt walkers.
“It’s about music, and it’s about movement,” said John Averill — a founding member, bassist and the group’s bandleader — during an interview with Explore Steamboat on Wednesday:
Explore Steamboat:How did you come to form the MarchFourth Marching Band in 2003?
John Averill: I was sort of putting together bands. … But all those bands were kind of one-offs. This one happened to stick.
It’s been 9 1/2 years, and the band has gone through so many mutations though since then. It’s changed a lot.
We had the spectacle right off the bat. We had the dancers and some drummers. And we only had four horns. Now, the band’s become a real band instead of a community revolving-door thing. What we are now is four dancers, five drummers, eight horns, me on bass and our sax player also plays guitar. We have a lot of guitar in the band. It’s become a big, funky rock band. There really isn’t anything “marching band“ about it.
Instead of a drum kit, we have five drummers that make up a kit. We had all these elements at the very first show, and so we’ve just refined that in all aspects.
The music definitely has stepped up. For the first show, we learned, like, seven covers.
Now, we play all originals. We have some really good writers, and we have developed our very own sound. It’s a very bass-heavy horn sound. What I was focused on in Portland nine or 10 years ago was putting on fun events in the spirit of New Orleans. Maybe not New Orleans, specifically, but maybe more like a Burning Man sort of get-together and bring out all these people and costumes and have a good time.
ES: I noticed MarchFourth will be performing at Burning Man this year. Are a lot of the members regular participants at the festival?
JA: Most of the band has been to Burning Man several times. I went 13 years in a row, and no one in the band or myself have gone in the last two years.
It’s not a big musical festival — you don’t make money going to Burning Man; you spend money going to Burning Man, but it’s returning to our roots.
ES:How has Burning Man influenced MarchFourth as a band?
JA: I think it’s more just the inclusive factor. It’s getting to where the audience is more involved in the show. We do a lot of things to break down that wall. It’s about the atmosphere where people are free to express themselves. That’s one of Burning Man’s better values, the M.O. of free expression.
People are encouraged to freak out and be a part of the show instead of just sitting and watching us.
ES:The Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series is a place where people of all ages come out to see the show. What do you like about playing for families?
JA: I love playing for kids; I love when they freak out. They’re not dancing to be cool. They’re not dancing to try to get noticed. They’re moved by something, and they’re jumping around. It’s so free form. We learn forms of dance: People come up with their cool dance and their sexy dances, but the kids are all about completely dorking out. And we’re dorking out on stage.
ES:Do you guys really make your own costumes? How does that process work?
JA: We find some stuff at thrift stores and vintage stores. We don’t have a dress code or anything uniform. We match because everything’s so mismatched that we all kind of match in some inverse way.