Mucca Pazza at the Turf Club in St Paul with Chooglin’ and El Le Faunt, Saturday night, July 23, was one of the most high energy, audience engaging indoor shows that has ever graced the Twin Cities. Touring here from Chicago, Mucca Pazza parodied the high school band/cheerleader experience while playing a virtuoso concert of Klezmer-influenced music. The music and choreography was tight, even as they mingled amongst a mobile crowd.
Set-up for the nearly 25 piece Mucca Pazza didn’t take long – with so much brass, there is little need for microphones. A few mics were set-up on stage for the various woodwinds and guitars that were amped. Then, the band on stage (the strings, the woodwinds, the drums), wearing vintage accouterments, held attention as the brass and cheerleaders made their formation throughout the audience. The drums brought the audience to attention and the crew began playing their way through the crowded room.
The band conducted very little stage banter, as the music spoke for itself. Occasional shouts from the megaphone were to thank the audience, to recognize the fellow bands on their bill, to announce a song by Dmitri Shostakovich, and to recognize the “student conductor.” The “student conductor” led the audience in a surprisingly organized round of ooohs and aaahs as former band and choir geeks in attendance were accustomed to the nuances of the conductor’s gesturing.
Mucca Pazza’s energy took away the usual inhibitions that Minnesotans often have. Whether the band was playing Gypsy style music like “Agushev Cocek” or their hit song “Borino Oro,” the crowd was digging it all, from tuba to piccolo. Hips were swinging to the sounds of the melodica, couples were waltzing with the woodwinds, and feet were tapping to the beat of familiar sounds of marching band drums.
As if the band itself couldn’t rile the audience, cheerleaders frequently ran through the crowd, jumping on tables, and waving pom-pons– brilliantly self-manufactured pom-pons with ingredients including bright yellow “police line, do not cross” tape.
Mucca Pazza is emerging onto the national music scene. Their song “Borino Oro,” for example, has already been featured in the Showtime television show Weeds. Mucca Pazza has also made an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Turf Club patrons might consider themselves lucky to have seen them when they were a mere $10 ticket. Last night’s pseudo pep rally at the Turf Club was proof that some of the best music has always begun right in our own backyard.