I have been thinking about this for a while and I got reminded by Gwen Stefani’s appearance on Letterman backed by a marching band.
For those of you who don’t know, I did marching band for four years. I sort of hated it, but I was also damn good at it. I like indie rock. I have for years. Put those together, and boom! You got a promising concept here.
[Here's a decent primer on marching bands if you're unfamiliar with stuff.]
This is my idea: approximately a 30 piece ensemble, definitely a bass drum or two, and a snare or two. probably snare-mounted high hats. Maybe a quad or a quint. Definitely a glockenspiel. It’d probably be brass heavy. A couple trumpets and trombones. A tuba holding down the bassline would be cool. A sax or two. Flutes and clarinets could probably be skipped. Eh, maybe a clarinet or two would be cool.
All common instrumentation thus far. It’d be cool to have guitar with one of those wireless do-dads. A bass might also be cool, but if the tuba/ sousaphone can do it, that’d be better. Other things that could have pickups and a wireless do-dad: ukulele, banjo, 80s-style guitar pianos.
Singing: I think there’d have to be a lead singer, but also plenty of chorus/ backup parts by the people on the field. Thinking about this for the past few days, it might be cool to have the singer be the conductor on the platform out front. My most recent thought would be that there wouldn’t be a conductor (phasing shouldn’t be a problem with a <30 person band) and everyone would do formations. (I did mention that, right? that everyone would do formations. Probably not super complex ones, but it wouldn’t be one of those band that just walks on the field, plays and walks off. There’d be no pit.) The time could be led from within; this would make speeding up easier, I think. So maybe the guitarist is singing and playing and marching with everyone else. The problem with that is that people like looking at the singer/ lead man while the thing is going on. hmm.
Uniforms: there’d have to be uniforms. I don’t think just t-shirts and jeans, but also not normal marching band uniforms. maybe jump suits? there’d have to be some hat, too. Marching bands have hats.
Songs selection and styles: indie rock. I think a lot of it would be post-rock. It’d be important to do mostly original songs, but some covers would be alright. Imagine a nice build going on the field while they are all stationary, then the drums come in and the mass of people start coming toward you and changing formations and stuff. I think it’d be pretty sweet.
Excuses for not doing this right now: it’d take a lot of time to start up and there aren’t people in the area that are that interested in indie rock bands. I think if I lived in an area with a higher concentration of people of my interests, it’d be easier. Like Cambridge, MA.