Review: An Under Cover Weekend 7 Delivers Two Nights of Memorable Music
Scarlet Tanager as The Beach Boys. Video courtesy of GrahamandSteve.
Travelocity Probably Booked Forty Flights from STL to California After This Set: Scarlet Tanager is no stranger to melodious arrangements and picture perfect harmonies. The choice of covering the Beach Boys was blanketed in, "Well, DUH." It was obvious from the beginning, with leis draped around mic stands and audience members and cut-out surfboards lining the back of the stage, that Scarlet Tanager made itself at home in Brian Wilson's back catalog. They even brought the beach to STL with inflatable tri-color balls for the audience to play with. Even with the visual stimuli, the Beach Boys' breezy arrangements, as played by Scarlet Tanager, were cozier than pulling a down comforter out of a just-finished drying cycle. The buzzer went off during "Don't Worry Baby" with Susan Logsden melting the crowd into a wobbly mess of grilled cheese. The audience melted further when Scarlet Tanager skipped into "Wouldn't It Be Nice." The opening chords, on record created by an effect traced mandoguitar (look it up), were presented on guitar on Saturday with matching tone. Yeah, it was nice. Very nice, indeed.
Arrest Me, Please: "EVERYBODY, THE POLICE ARE HERE!!" shouted Michael Tomko as he introduced Last To Show First To Go. Instead of imbuing fear into the crowd, because we are all pretty wise to Tomko's clever schemes, a Bredon Jones-led LTSFTG broke into "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." LTSFTG played a set devoid of showmanship that was relentlessly exact in its precision. Jones was able to sing Sting's Caribbean-drenched high notes beautifully, but it did not come without some doubt, "I was worried we would have to change keys -- it's higher than I normally sing. But, I realized if I sang as loud as I could, I could sing those notes," admitted Jones during Via Dove's INXS set, where he could still be heard singing in those same keys. "King of Pain" was anchored by Mike Cracchiolo's return to the stage, this time on lead vocals and bass, as Jay Lewis took to the cello. "Roxanne" gave rise to an uproarious sing along with every crowd member belting for Roxanne's freedom.
CHOOSE LIFE: The Feed's Wham/George Michaels set was so much to take in. Band members were decked out in "GAY OK," "CHOOSE LIFE," and "GO-GO" printed shirts. Saxophonist Ben Reese dressed as The Sexy Sax Man of viral video fame, complete with mullet and head band, and blasted through "Careless Whisper." Lead singer Dave Grelle left the stage after "Careless Whisper" to adorn himself in Michaels' attire. Once he pounded back onstage with a leather jacket, faded blue jeans, and sunglasses on, the transformation between Wham! era Michaels and his solo career was complete, and "Faith" was next on the setlist. Grelle proceeded to purr through Michael's solo numbers, opting to make "Freedom! '90" explode with cool. It did not hurt that Via Dove's Andy Shadburne guested on vocals, helping to provide the gospel flair that made "Freedom! '90" a standout during the Feed's set.
A Proper Good-Bye: It was Via Dove's last night as an AUCW performer. After five years with performances as the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, AC/DC, Aerosmith and, lastly, INXS, Via Dove said its farewell. Thankfully, it was not before kicking some serious ass. Andy Shadburne prowled around the stage embodying a series of critters both nefarious and sexy. His best moment was climbing up on Firebird's sofas and crouching down like a bird of prey to sing "What You Need" before hopping off to glide across dance floor. Shadburne's feet, and vocals, know no boundaries. Shadburne's long been touted as St. Louis' quintessential frontman. His old-school bravado heralded showmen of the past. Michael Tomko's crunchy guitar solo provided the texture, and Funky Butt Brass Band's wails created an even more exuberant ten-song set. Via Dove's past and present AUCW choices play well into their particular gifts, and it will be a shame to not see them inhabit another performer for AUCW. But, smart choices equal legend status, and it will be forever until we stop talking about the impact Via Dove has had on AUCW. Always ballsy and prone to going ballistic, Via Dove's swan song was a fantastic anchoring leg in its AUCW odyssey.
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