Concert review: An Under Cover Weekend 6, Night 2 thrills and spills out classic rock and pop at the Firebird, Saturday, September 8
Closing out this year’s installment of An Under Cover Weekend in the usual grand style, five St. Louis bands — Arthur and the Librarian, Last to Show First to Go, Palace, Dots Not Feathers and Via Dove — raised the bar and left the crowd anticipating next year’s party at the Firebird.
Arthur and the Librarian transformed into Simon and Garfunkel to start the evening’s festivities. There appeared to be a few sound issues with this set, mainly that Aubrey Howard’s Garfunkel was buried in the mix and often inaudible. Arthur Crittenden did a better than average Paul Simon imitation, especially in his between-song banter. The full band did a great job with the music, performing a faithful rendition of the original recordings’ clean sound. I was somewhat surprised to hear post Simon and Garfunkel tunes in the mix, most notably “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Given the Simon and Garfunkel name, I was expecting to hear more of their earlier works, along the lines of “Feelin’ Groovy” or “The Boxer.” Despite the slight timeline displacement, Arthur and the Librarian put on a great show and were an excellent choice as an opening act.
The second band to hit the stage was Last to Show First to Go who became Neil Young for the evening. As a longtime Young fan, I was concerned about how accepting I would be of this set. Fortunately, it appeared that the band is just as big a fan as I am. Bredon Jones replicated Young’s tenor very well, only lacking in the telltale grit that only Neil can display. The rest of the band covered the tunes as if they were present at the “Harvest” sessions. The only change from the original tunes was replacing the harmonica parts with Miriam Keller’s trumpet. Her tone and phrasing reminded me of the trumpet on “Ice Rose” from the Captain Beefheart album “Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller),” which gets an automatic pass in my book. The solo rendition of “The Needle and the Damage Done” was awe inspiring while “Ohio” and set closer “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” were true to their roots. This was my favorite set of the night and probably my favorite of the entire weekend.
Dressed in its shiniest disco-era finery and joined by members of Scarlet Tanager, Palace managed to re-create the songs of ABBA with style. Undoubtedly one of the most fun sets I’ve ever seen, the band was tight, the vocals were dead on, the costumes were authentic and the band was obviously having fun. I don’t think a single person in the place failed to sing along or dance to “Dancing Queen,” “Voulez-Vous” or “Take a Chance.” I think the best crowd response that I heard all night was a young lady who said, “F**k this band for making me enjoy an ABBA set. I want to go egg their houses.” If your set is good enough to cause the crowd to resort to vandalism, I’d say that it’s a good one.
Dots Not Feathers decided to go for broke and cover the songs of Michael Jackson. The band’s rendition of Stevie Wonder was one of the highlights of last year’s AUCW. DNF didn’t drop the ball with this set. The band members were all dressed in costumes from various stages of MJ’s career and managed to pull off a set of fun and accurate covers from “Rock With Me” through “Man in the Mirror.” The crowd was moving along and singing with “Beat It” and “Billie Jean,” especially replicating the King of Pop’s signature yells. They finished their set with “Thriller” that included a well-performed rendition of Vincent Price’s monologue. I was expecting this to be a good set given last year’s performance and was glad to find that my expectations weren’t set too high.
Closing out the night was Via Dove, who put on a spectacular show as Aerosmith. Putting Via Dove on the band list is like putting Yadier Molina on your softball team. The level of skill and professionalism is so high that even on a bad day you’re going to get your face melted off by a wave of rock. This set was no exception. The song selection was taken from “Pump” backwards, which I think was a good decision since costuming would be difficult. I can’t imagine that Andy Shadburne would be able to mimic Steven Tyler’s moves if he’d have been forced to wear a Cryptkeeper outfit in order to look like the Steven Tyler of today. The set was high quality and ran from “Dream On” to “Love in an Elevator” with all the force that Aerosmith themselves deliver on stage. They were joined on stage by Robb Steele, reprising the role of Run–D.M.C. from AUCW 2, to put on a high-power performance of “Walk This Way.” It was a fantastic ending to a fantastic weekend.