Art in New York City is as often just as diverse as the people who live and visit the bustling metropolis. Each added artistic flair, whether local or from afar, keeps a piece of its aesthetic gift in the minds of those of who witness its passing. This past week, a prime example of this in the music medium left a powerful impression on many. MarchFourth, the epic 20 piece band of musicians and performers, unleashed a show like no other, as part of the Rocks Off cruises, on the famous Jewel last Wednesday night. As one guest declared, “it is great music with a focus on performance art.” Well, that was exactly what it was.
Anticipation was high that evening as listeners made their way to the East Side to board the Jewel. Luckily, one of the final intense rain storms of the summer passed on through the city, only to end right before the night was set to begin. While walking over to the East Side, many fans were sure to take a photo of the giant rainbow that conveniently led the way to the docks! To add onto the weather, there was a pleasant fall breeze that cooled everything down for the lingering walk. Despite the slight humidity and dank ocean smells of the East River, fans were eagerly waiting to board by the FDR Highway. Smiles soon appeared as some of the performers of MarchFourth were walking to and fro all dressed up in their flamboyant circus attire.
Finally, when everyone was allowed to board the Jewel, many stopped to take in the breathtaking view of Brooklyn and the lights of the city. Some guests made their way to the upper deck of the boat to admire the lit up disco dance floor. Many would take advantage of that dance area later on. Walking down to the lower deck, where most of the action was to take place, viewers passed the merchandise table which had plenty of goods to choose from. At first glance, handmade fedoras made from reclaimed leather and fabric were proudly displayed with messages from the band tucked in them. MarchFourth’s trademark “M” was sewn in as well. Two giant leather-bound suitcase were sprawled open with t-shirts, CDs and other fun products that people eventually took advantage of. It looked like a carnie-style vendor with a splash of Harry Potter fashion.
With the bar and food buffet in the back, the rest of the floor remained empty until the band made their way to their instruments. Some of the band members were up by the staging area drinking away and dancing together, completely dressed in bright colors. All of their attire was as random as the next. It was hard to place their fashion choice other than to imagine Rio’s Carnival had a baby with the hipsters of the world. Their enthusiasm and excitement was easily transferred to the rest of the guests who soon would be as animated as they were. It felt like they were the hype team for the event at hand. The audience could obviously see the unique sense of camaraderie among the musicians and performers.
Eventually, all of the horns began to tune up a bit. As the entire band came together, the lead trombone player, sporting blue specs and an awesome mohawk, amped up the people with a pumping bass in the background. Every member encouraged people to move closer to them and a bouncing dance among them all began. It was groovy funk to start with a Caribbean bit tucked in there. All of the horns were beautifully synced and perfect. Everything had that old school big band feel. However, with their clothing and animated dances, they made sure to take it to another level. They honestly were in a world primarily their own. Jazz-funk was another of their genres as the trio of percussionists maintained a steady and addictive beat. Each horn had their moment to shine as each musician added their particular taste to the instrument. Whether it was the trombone, flute, sax, trumpet or beyond, they were quick on the feet. Their fingers and puffs of notes were sublimely fast and suave.
Throughout the show, dancers, who would usually be attempting acrobatics, were dancing in front and among the crowd for the added enjoyment of the passengers on this jam cruise. Even the horn section was not shy about coming into the audience in pure New Orleans-style marches. Everyone loved those moments which were supported by loud cheers and permanent smiles. If the band was tired, they never let it show with their optimism and energy. A rock and roll vibe entered the atmosphere as a wailing guitar was welcomed into the eardrums of the crowd. Swaying heads and moving bodies were on every inch of the boat now. Shirts and jackets from the band, who were sweating profusely, came off and it was on even more so. Some of the best parts were when the drummers began dueling drum solos that were simply entertaining to watch and hear.
Right before intermission, a cooler from the band fell over from the rocking of the boat and the dancers anxiously ran over to collect the ice and clean up the mess. A few guests helped too. However, that did not slow down the band at all, they kept playing on and were professionals all the way through. Intermission came right as the boat came close to the lovely Statue of Liberty and the band crowded up on the upper deck to snag some worthwhile memories on camera. Everyone was extremely happy together, not a sad face on the cruise. When the band came back for the remainder of their set, it was by far the most active part of the return to the docks. The entire boat was actively dancing away with the music with sweat pouring down. At one point, the band even had the entire ship join in to a choreographed dance together. Laughter and pure joy were the result of this. The final couple of songs included a great soul rendition of Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes and a collection of cheerleader antics in the crowd complete with silver pom-poms. As the set came to a close, the entire band meandered into the audience and situated themselves around the circle of the percussion and mingled with musical aplomb with the guests. Everyone became a part of the musical family.
Everything about their music was just goddamn fun! For fans of music and simple good times, MarchFourth will satisfy all those needs. People will return home will extreme energy and a joy of living. That mood will continue for days more and with their music, it can last a lifetime. Give them a listen and see them in person, worth every penny.