Mucca Pazza brought the rah-rah to the Bedlam

Categories: Concert Review
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Saturday nights in the Twin Cities are the long, witching hours of the soul-- a time for punk bands and puking in a garbage can, for noise rock, for rap shows in the Main Room, and Too Much Love.

But last Saturday at the Bedlam, despite all the acoutrements of debauchery, a 25-piece marching band, complete with cheerleaders (who, yes, did cheers), pom poms, and a fully outfitted trombone section, was a haven of rediscovered innocence.

Let's face it. High school was a drag. Wherever you fell on the food chain, whether you ran with the sharks or the chum, it was still a cutthroat world. So it's remarkable that Mucca Pazza has managed to mine such sordid material for such exquisite extract. The band's musical talents and overflowing good nature were powerful enough to make a room full of West Bank kids find a way to enjoy a part of their own youths that are likely painful memories that only get more palatable with elapsing years-- and that's no small feat.

It was 11:30 when Mucca Pazza gingerly filed from a Bedlam back room. To a slow, Burton-0esque, twinkling dirge, played gingerly on chimes and muted trumpet, they wended their way through the seated crowd, grinning, issuing quiet hellos.

It was a scant twenty seconds later that the crowd was on foot, the room a pure chaos of animation, Mucca Pazza's 20+ members spread through the auditorium seating, mixed in with the squall of dancing fans, the room bellowing with a booming rouser. And thus went the show, which was a dance party of uncommon energy, and even less common kinship with the music being performed.

We all know this music. But when we were young, it was something to be survived, to be endured. And it's only because Mucca Pazza is so damnably sincere about it that we find ourselves grinning until it hurts, and dancing until we're too stiff to move.

The most engaging thing about the band, however, is that fact that they are not content with the easy appeal. And though all their songs are run through a marching band filter, much of their music is much more broad-- there are hints of Klezmer, of mariachi, of Morricone scores, and some unusual instrumentation only adds accent-- a fiddler, an electric guitarist, an accordionist. What makes Mucca Pazza so endearing is that fact that, in their world, anything, but ANYTHING, goes.

The conceptual risks run by Mucca Pazza boggle the mind. They are, in more ways than one, a gargantuan, a behemoth, and their size and the obscurity of their subject matter make them vulnerable to all sorts of complaints of gimmickry. But those criticisms cannot withstand their presence and their sound-- they are so talented, so scholarly, so purely in love with themselves without the merest shade of arrogance, that they pull off the most daring musical stunt imaginable-- making a couple hundred smelly bike kids dance like it's doomsday to a Sousa march.



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