Here we are again. The weekend has succeeded in melting into Monday, and An Under Cover Weekend is embedded in lore until next September. The annual event, which draws sold-out crowds to the Firebird each year has left us until next September. An Under Cover Weekend 7 showcased the technical prowess of bands like the Feed and the Incurables, and the simple beauty of Scarlet Tanagers' harmonies. It gave Bredon Jones of Last To Show First To Go reason to flex vocal muscles he wasn't even sure he had. It also gave rise to a new guard who will satisfy St. Louis' stomach pains for another show-stopping act like Via Dove, who after five cycles bid AUCW adieu.
Here is a recap of AUCW's ten acts who sang, strummed, and showed off their talent as some of the most famous and respected musicians known.
NIGHT ONE: FRIDAY
Band Most Likely to Confuse People Who Buy Its EP: Bluefish is not a jazz band. It is a four-piece of young, intrepid gents who concoct calculated indie-pop numbers immersed in shaky moog-like synth and throaty open-hearted vocals...none of which were present in its thirty minutes as the Rat Pack. Brad Baker slid onto the stage in a three-piece suit colored like coffee that's been drowned by cream and sugar. His voice was lacquered with the mischievous swing of Guys and Dolls' Sky Masterson as the added brass section emoted with all the tender nuances of big band cordiality. Bluefish took a chance on covering an act outside its comfort zone, and the risk paid off. The 180-degree difference between Bluefish's resting position and the Rat Pack's persuasive, Golden Globe-hijacking charm was in dispose. When "Everybody Loves Somebody" kicked in, its cumbersome bass and drum wag in tow, the audience swung right-to-left with the rhythm and crooned along with Bluefish.
Search Parties as Arcade Fire. Video courtesy of GrahamandSteve.
Please Come Back Next Year: Search Parties performed as Arcade Fire. I am just going to let you all know, I am not an Arcade Fire fan. I became attached to "No Cars Go" in my formative years as a music consumer and was never able to recapture the instant adoration I felt for "that song in other Arcade Fire numbers. Search Parties is an ambitious band rife with talent and an ear for the sublime. Its live sets reach glittering, snow-capped heights of polyphonic serenity. About two minutes into "We Used To Wait" any doubt I had over my enjoyment of Arcade Fire washed away. "We Used To Wait" is wonderfully idiosyncratic with emphasized syllabic resonance on words that act as capstones to sentences. "Wait" became "Wah-ait," and in that brief clip the monosyllabic became two and utterly inescapable. Arcade Fire fans danced and sang audaciously with Elliot Pearson during "Wake Up" as percussionist Alex Petrone was given support by bandmate Dylan Doughty and Danny Blaies of Brother Lee and the Leather Jackals to manifest a sound akin to an enormous boulder somersaulting downhill into a town made of precious metals.
Let's Not and Deny We Karaoke'd: Compared to Bluefish and Search Parties' sets, which were propelled by chance and an obvious love of the bands they covered, the Defeated County's Mamas and the Papas set seemed like a parody. Irene Ellen and Langen Neubacher pranced around the stage and caterwauled in an uncomfortable, starving cat kind of way, that made one nearby audience member question their levels of intoxication. The set served to illustrate why it is imperative for bands at AUCW to pick acts they dig that will challenge them. Defeated County did not appear to try too hard to perform well. While they looked like they were enjoying themselves, the apparent ease caused the set to come across as amateur. The result was a disappointing, karaoke-esque rendition of "California Dreaming" and "Monday, Monday" as well as other Mamas and the Papas favorites by a band that is normally capable of so much more.
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