Mar 14, 2008

Hungry March Band at MOMA


Saw the Hungry March Band at MOMA today. Quite a sight. This Flickr Set by ThisWeekInNewYork has photos from the Hungry March Band at MOMA.

I am a huge fan of gypsy-punk and brass bands who play in contemporary contexts like nightclubs and warehouse parties. I find a lot of pop music too slick - when I hear tunes on the radio or MTV I can almost hear the producers moving the sliders, twisting the knobs, making take-after-take, pitch-correcting and time-shifting every moment to produce the perfectly polished feel of the Music Industrial Complex.

It's hard to do that with a marching band. Bands like the Hungry March Band and the Luminescent Orchestrii reference older forms and traditions... things that are defiantly untrendy like brass instruments and plastic whistles. It is a sound that is a bit more ragged, it hasn't been fully overtaken by the MIC.

Appropriating these sounds within a contemporary context like a warehouse party is rad. Who would have known that a brass band can PUMP IT! One of Hungry March Band's best tricks is that the band members mix in with the crowd, they march around anarchically. They are not up on the stage, and do not follow a set pattern. This tactic, too, downplays image, it emphasizes the visceral qualities of sound. The sound is all around you and there is no one place to focus your gaze. You quickly become lost in the dance.

It was strange to see them at MOMA. There, too, they interfered with the workings of image. The museum guards seemed determined to keep to keep the visitors and the musicians separate, to preserve the sanctity of the performance space. Meanwhile, the musicians mixed and moved, avoiding the hierarchy.

Upstairs, while staring at paintings, you could hear the trombone.