MUCCA PAZZA assembled itself in a steel mill parking lot along the Chicago river.. Combining marching band traditions and street theater experience with rock band sensibilities, Mucca Pazza quickly found a home for its 30-odd members in the thriving Chicago underground music scene. Their eccentric, frenetic visual presence, and genre-bending original compositions earned them critical praise and a loyal local following. Before long, with their live show’s reputation preceding them, Mucca Pazza began to branch out nationally, appearing on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, WFMU, and the Kentucky Derby, as well as supporting major national acts and performing at numerous national music festivals like Lollapalooza, Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors and the Montreal Jazz Fest.
“Ceci n’est pas une Marching Band”
Despite the drums and brass, cheerleaders and uniforms, Mucca Pazza seldom marches, musically or physically. The uniforms do not match. The cheers are strange. There are no recognizable patterns, no discernible formations, no militant airs. However, the force and presence of a marching band remain, both sonically and theatrically. The brass harmony, rich and powerful, the drums, tight and idiosyncratic, combine as a sum greater than its parts. The band might even move from point A to point B. But this is where similarities end. Mucca Pazza dances, flails, tumbles, and spins in circles. Amplified by speaker helmets, the freak section wields violins and cellos, accordions and guitars – instruments that have no business whatsoever being in a marching band. The cheerleaders rouse, encourage and confound the audience with asynchronous absurdity. The music moves from Balkan to brass band groove to noise-rock to avant-garde game show themes without missing a step. Performances can induce geeky freak-outs and nerdy rapture, from either audience or band members, often both. The American tradition of the marching band – whether as presidential entourage, half-time show, or second line party favor – receives both fresh love and artful abuse from Mucca Pazza.