Wow. The March Fourth Marching Band...wow. Yay. Yes. I am in Goofyville after seeing them.
The band played the Crystal Ballroom twice today, the all-ages show at 3:30 I attended and an 8:30 show for those a) 21 and older who b) can afford to be up late tonight. I've seen them before, at Waterfront Blues in 2006, when they were really showing their New Orleans-funeral-music style. And the band always plays a birthday show on (you guessed it) March Fourth, and I'm glad I went!
The 3:30 show had a great turnout: It didn't sell out the way the Sleater-Kinney show I saw there did, but it got plenty packed. Waiting to enter, I said "People are gonna be introducing their kids to pogoing." Someone said "The floor's a pogo stick." Sort of: the Crystal Ballroom's wood floor has give to it, adding bounce; it's called the "floating dance floor." Another cool detail. It means bouncing is encouraged. Neat.
The 3:30 show's opening act was Circus Contraption, a circus-themed music and acrobat show out of Seattle: horns and drums and jugglers and people safely getting held well above the upper stage (yes there was a two-level stage) and well above the floor. I was wide-eyed several times today. I do not have the balance of an acrobat. I appreciate those who do.
While Circus Contraption performed (complete with their lead singer acting like a carnival barker between songs), some March Fourth members were in the crowd. On stilts. And two of the performers had stilts on their arms as well as their legs, much like the Landstriders in The Dark Crystal. Except that these two were dressed like poodles. The coolness continued...
Surprisingly quickly after Circus Contraption wrapped, the whole of March Fourth -- and it's a large group -- entered from the rear of the ballroom, through the crowd and towards the stage, opening with "The Imperial March" from The Empire Strikes Back. (Adding to the moment's insanity: I recalled that "The Imperial March" has the same rhythm and cadence as "The Macarena," so that people at SF conventions back in 1996 would do the "Imperial Death Macarena!" I never did the Macarena, but I remember this stuff...) They all reached the stage, and did song after song with quick transitions. Then one member talked of the time when "there was no such thing as March Fourth, so let us introduce you to...The Dawn of Band!" Which was an acrobatic thing involving two stilt-walkers and people climbing between them and standing on top of them, all to the tune of that radio-single version of "Also Sprach Zarathustra (Theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey)." With, um, a bit of "A Fifth of Beethoven" thrown in for good measure.
Another highlight: the band invited everyone with a March Fourth birthday to climb onstage and listen to Ballroom-filling renditions of both the traditional "Happy Birthday" (to which I added the real name of my birthday-celebrating friend blubeagle) and The Beatles' "Happy Birthday." And then there was more music and more exuberance. And I danced like an idiot. A happy idiot.
Then I headed home with a smile and a balloon.