Costumes, horns and dancers make up the MarchFourth party 

Portland marching band performs in Whistler on Aug. 2

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - march on Catch MarchFourth on Whistler Olympic Plaza on Aug. 2.
  • PHOTO submitted
  • march on Catch MarchFourth on Whistler Olympic Plaza on Aug. 2.

MarchFourth might bring the party—but they also rack up the bills.

The Portland marching band performs with 12 musicians and three dancers (including some on stilts), which means tours can get pricey—particularly when you factor in transportation on an aging bus.

While the high-energy act has been working on a new record—a follow-up to 2016's Magic Number—they've had to put the project on hold for now in order to buy a new bus. "It's going to be a while before it comes out," says John Averill, co-founder and band leader. "We had to buy a new bus, so we had to drain our account ... We buy used buses—a new bus costs half-a-million. We're on our fourth bus now."

But with transportation secured, the group is set to continue on a summer tour—which has included a stop at Wanderlust Squaw Valley and will include Wanderlust Whistler.

"We played the main stage down in the valley (but the) swimming pool at the top of a mountain is nice," Averill says of the former event.

When he and friend Dan Stauffer first started the marching band back in 2003, it was meant to be a one-time gig for a Fat Tuesday party. (Hence, the name—with Fat Tuesday falling on March 4 that year.) With costumes, a massive horn section and some dancers thrown in, it became an instant hit. The group quickly grew to a collection of 40 performers, but that number has been pared back over the years.

People "pass in and out" with only three members from that original group remaining, Averill says. The biggest change over that time, however, is the musicianship.

"It started off as a party. Now people take it more seriously. A lot of the new players are coming out of music school and they're eager to do a good job. The fun vibe is still there, but people take their craft more seriously. I threw the band together for a party. It's been a gradual evolution," Averill says.

Another sign of the group's maturation: "Back in the day there were so many of us who piled on the stage and there was no sound check. Now we have risers for the horn section and it's more streamlined."

While their forthcoming record might be on hold, Averill says Whistler crowds can still expect to hear a few new tracks. "We have a lot of new stuff coming out from the last time we were in Whistler," he says. "It's a really funky dance party."

Don't miss MarchFourth at Whistler Olympic Plaza as part of Wanderlust and the Whistler Presents Summer Concert Series on Thursday, Aug. 2 at 8:30 p.m.

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