Mucca Pazza

photos by Allison King

About Mucca Pazza

Mucca Pazza was born 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. Having worked with choreographers, filmmakers and theatrical groups, as well as performing in art museums around the country, Mucca Pazza is as comfortable in the fine arts and performance art world as the local rock club, or parking lot.

“Ceci n’est pas une Marching Band”

Mucca Pazza is not a marching band, despite the drums and brass, cheerleaders and uniforms. They seldom march, musically or physically. Their 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 – sonically, theatrically, odorously. There is the brass harmony, rich and powerful. The drum section, as tight and idiosyncratic as Machu Picchu’s masonry. The band might even move from point A to point B. This is where similarities to familiar marching traditions end. Mucca Pazza dances, flails, tumbles, and spins in circles. There are instruments borrowed from rock bands and orchestras. There are speaker helmets. The cheerleaders rouse, encourage and confound the audience with synchronized absurdity. The music moves from brass band groove to noise rock to avant-garde game show themes without blinking. 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, gets both fresh love and artful abuse from Mucca Pazza.