Monday, 30 October 2017 14:40

To The Beat of a Different Drum: Mock marching band brings joyful noise to West Michigan

Written by  Samara Napolitan
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Controlled chaos. An amorphous, musical blob. A marching band that thinks it’s a rock band.

There are many ways to describe Mucca Pazza, the interdisciplinary musical ensemble coming to Hope College on Nov. 17, and the constantly shifting band members are absolutely fine with that.

“There are a lot of really funny, strange people in the band, and that comes out a lot in our performance,” said Charlie Malave, who plays electric guitar in the band. “While the band is one large entity, it’s still made up of individuals.”

The band’s ethos of personal expression is shown in the mismatched uniforms donned by its members. It’s also demonstrated in the eclecticism of the original compositions it performs. From Ennio Morricone-inspired riffs to Balkan rhythms to frenetic art rock, no sound is off the table. United by its dedication to high-caliber music, the band’s purpose is to poke at the stuffiness that sometimes accompanies traditional genres of music.

Malave, for instance, is a member of what is affectionately called the “freak section,” comprised of instruments one normally wouldn’t see in a marching band. The freak section wields violins, cellos, accordions and guitars, and wears speaker helmets to amplify sound amid the brass, drums and woodwinds.

The band marches from point A to B during performances, but not without dancing, flailing about, tumbling and making goofy faces. Cheerleaders perform alongside the musicians, but their cheers are more like confusing riddles than spirited chants.

However, there is some order to the disarray. Mucca Pazza performs original music almost exclusively, created by a handful of people in the group who are consistently writing.

“It’s a pretty open process in terms of everyone’s encouraged to bring tunes to the rehearsal,” Malave said. “It ultimately comes down to what tunes are working and are compositionally in line with our aesthetic. Our artistic director will steer us in the right direction so that we’re representing the group consistently.”

As Mucca Pazza’s following grows, the band members hope that the musical hodgepodge inspires other young musicians (or any concertgoer, for that matter) to get creative.

“What I want most for any audience member is to give themselves over to the experience we’re trying to give them,” Malave said. “If we open ourselves up to having incredible, transformative experiences, then our odds of having other experiences is much greater.”

Mucca Pazza
The Knickerbocker Theatre
86 E. 8th St., Holland
Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m., $22, (616) 395-7890

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