Their trademark approach is a mellow, mid-tempo 1990s rock sound. The name "Marcy Playground" is named from the Marcy Open grade school in Minneapolis, an alternative school John Wozniak attended. Much of the band's music was inspired by his youth, during which he claims he was an "outsider."
2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the band's self-titled debut, and to mark the occasion, John Wozniak did a brief solo acoustic tour, playing Marcy Playground songs. A tour with the full band, supported by Fuel, followed shortly after.
The band still occasionally do shows to this day.
- Marcy Playground (1997)
- Shapeshifter (1999)
- MP3 (2004)
- Leaving Wonderland...In A Fit Of Rage (2009)
- Indaba Remixes from Wonderland (2010) (remix album)
- Lunch, Recess & Detention (2012) (rarities/b-sides collection)
Marcy Playground provides examples of:
- All of the Other Reindeer: "Saint Joe On The School Bus" is about being bullied, which John Wozniak dealt with a lot growing up - particularly on his own school bus.Saint Joe, he said he's never been
Dressed up like a woman
Saint Joe, they said your dad is gay
They said your mom she's a whore
They said it 'til you were raw, yeah
They said your mom she's a bore
And they made her beg them for more
- Bathos: John Wozniak lost a lot of friends to heroin during his college years, and wrote "Wave Motion Gun" when he was trying to convince someone to give the habit up. Of course, he mixed it with references to Star Blazers (more famously known as Space Battleship Yamato).
- B-Side: "Memphis" is a notable example, as John Wozniak's wife thought it was too good a song to languish as a b-side and convinced him to rerecord it for Leaving Wonderland...In A Fit Of Rage years later.
- Cover Version: Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is covered on Lunch, Recess & Detention.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out / No Ending: Marcy Playground did both of these on one song, within fifteen seconds of each other. "The Shadow Of Seattle" seems to end on a solemn note, then suddenly starts up again for two bars, then the tape abruptly cuts out. It's a bit jarring.
- Grief Song: "Death Of A Cheerleader" from MP3.
- Hidden Track: At the end of MP3 is a band member telling a joke that ends with an Incredibly Lame Pun.
- "I Want" Song:"I wanna be a..... a punk rock superstar..."
- Kids Are Cruel: "Saint Joe On The School Bus," from the debut, is about being picked on.
- Laser-Guided Karma: At the end of the music video for "Saint Joe On The School Bus", Joe gets eaten by a dog (the same dog at the beginning while he was being removed from its stomach) after messing with people by crying wolf.
- Ode to Intoxication: "Wave Motion Gun" is a dark-humored version of this - it's about a guy doing heroin while watching Star Blazers."Soon there'll be no pain again
You'll feel like yourself again
When you shoot all your heroin
In one big blast from your wave motion gun"
- One-Woman Song: "Sherry Fraser." She was John Wozniak's first girlfriend, and they're Amicable Exes.
- Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: John Wozniak tended to lean in this direction.
- Pun-Based Title: See, the album is called MP3 because they're Marcy Playground and it's their third album. Eh? Eh?
- Rock Trio: John Wozniak (guitar) and Dylan Keefe (bass) have held those spots for the band's whole existence. Jared Kotler, Dan Rieser and Gonzalo Martinez de la Cotera (aka Gonz) have rotated through the drummer position, which has been held since 2009 by Shlomi Lavie.
- Rock-Star Song: "Punk Rock Superstar."
- Satan: Of all bands to have a song about the devil! Originally titled "The Devil's Song," the song wound up on MP3 under the title "Deadly Handsome Man." Satanic imagery is also found on "Hotter Than The Sun" from the same album.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: "Hotter Than The Sun" from MP3 is about the band's 15 Minutes of Fame in the late 90s, and how they ultimately decided they didn't want to compromise who they are to become celebrities.
- Self-Titled Album: The debut, still their most famous album.
- Spelling Song: Spelling out "B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E" in "Death Of A Cheerleader."
- Stop and Go: "Rosey Risin'" stops briefly so John Wozniak can yawn. In the liner notes of Lunch, Recess & Detention, they muse that they may have been one of the few rock bands ever to do that on a record.
- Surreal Music Video: "Sex & Candy" again.
- Take That!: "Punk Rock Superstar" comes off like a jab at the mega-stars of Pop Punk in the early 2000s.
- Title Track: An odd example - the title track from Shapeshifter, didn't make the album proper, and only got released on the Lunch, Recess & Detention rarities compilation years later.
- Wave-Motion Gun: The title of a track from Shapeshifter.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Wozniak's lyrics are not above a little surrealism here and there, though they've gotten more straightforward about their lyrics through the years. "Sex And Candy" is rife with this trope, and even Wozniak doesn't quite have a straight answer for it.note