Who Are We?!

40 or so members of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra wearing green, black, and glitter hold their instruments and pose at Rubulad after their 18th anniversary show in June 2022.


The Rude Mechanical Orchestra is a radical protest marching band based in Mannahatta, the unceded occupied land of the Lenape Nation, colonially known as New York City. We play music and provide chant support in the streets for the revolution and all its intersecting avenues, including (but not limited to): feminism, immigrant rights, queer and trans rights, labor, climate justice, peace, community self-determination, and racial, social, and economic justice. We pledge to fight racism, sexism, anti-queerness, ableism, ageism, war, and all forms of oppression.

Through our music, we strive to bring joy and inspiration to the communities we are in solidarity with and to inspire new people into activism of all kinds. We pay tribute to the world’s cultures and the revolutionary role music has played throughout history. Internally, we work towards being a safe, welcoming place for all genders, ages, races, sexual orientations, disabilities, neurotypes, religions, ethnicities, and musical skill levels. We act at the rate of joy, outside of urgency whenever possible, spread solidarity by taking care of each other and our communities, and make the revolution sustainable, effective, engaging, liberating, and fun!


We formed in the spring of 2004 for the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C. and solidified to support people protesting the Republican National Convention in New York. We were a motley mix of rusty players that hadn’t picked up a horn since high school and longtime street bandistas on leave from Hungry March Band or the Infernal Noise Brigade, blowing sour notes at the invading greedheads and serenading the rabble. Since our founding, we’ve tripled our numbers and made strides in our sound, but we remain a band of mostly amateurs rediscovering and reinterpreting the music we played as adolescent band geeks and music-loving activists.

Over the years, we have played at more Black Lives Matter, climate justice, and anti-war marches than we can count. We’ve protested union-busters and tip-garnishers, gentrifiers and privatizers, xenophobes, homoantagonists, racists, and a host of other big uglies. We’ve fought for our collective liberation with everyone from Time’s Up to 350 NYC, the Restaurant Opportunity Center of New York to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project to NYC For Abortion Rights, the War Resisters League to Decolonize This Place, from CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities to Movimiento Cosecha, and from Jews for Racial & Economic Justice to Within Our Lifetime: United for Palestine. We’ve joyously jammed at community events around town and beyond, like the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s Queer Liberation March, St. Pat’s for All Parade, Queens Pride Parade, the Mermaid Parade, the East Village Roving Garden Party, Philadelphia’s Spiral Q Peoplehood Parade, and HONK! in both Boston and NYC. Musically, we have partnered with NYC Democratic Socialists of America’s Sing in Solidarity Choir, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and the NYC Metro Raging Grannies to arrange and perform a vast repertoire of classic and contemporary movement songs.

Our repertoire includes a mix of folk songs from cultures spanning the globe, as well as some more contemporary numbers and a bunch of originals, many of which can be heard on our studio albums. A typical set might include a spritz of klezmer, some Balkan and Brazilian notes, plenty of funk, some Latin beats, Janelle Monae covers, and a little jazz, all of it served up with a patina of punk. We typically turn out anywhere from 10 to 25 performers to a show, though we’ve been known to swell suddenly and without warning into The Green Monster, a billowing cloud of brass, ‘tude and glitter, according to some occult confluence of the tides and the stars. No matter what we play, we strive to do justice to the music and give credit where credit is due.

If you’d like us to play at your next event, or if you’d like to join the band, please reach out!

See you in the streets!