Postmodern Jukebox at the Vogue Theatre, 12/01/18
Postmodern Jukebox, the jazz, blues and soul collective of viral YouTube fame, delivered a level of musicianship that transported the Vogue Theatre audience to the past at a sold-out show Saturday night.
Famous for taking modern pop hits and completely reinventing them in the jazzier styles of the early to mid-1900s (“It’s as if Frank Sinatra wrote a Justin Bieber song!”), the band attracted a diverse crowd of ages, offering something for everyone to enjoy.
A few people in the audience dressed for the occasion in old-school costumes, making the event appear more like a classy social gathering than a concert.
Serving as MC, American Idol alumnus Casey Abrams was a dynamic stage presence, energizing the crowd as he introduced the various singers and musicians – all of which were surprises, as the talent rotates for each show.
A tap dancer, Demi Remick, appeared for multiple songs to complete the picture of the portal to the past.
Abrams continued to emphasize the spontaneity of the group, making up songs about audience members and pointing to musicians and asking them to deliver solos on the spot “to prove it’s completely random.”
Half the fun was attempting to decipher what songs the band was playing. You could often hear members of the audience laughing at how well they were able to pull off a complete reinvention of songs from a wide variety of genres.
The standout vocalist of the night was easily the older and more experienced performer Miche Braden, who delivered a slowed-down powerhouse soul version of Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” early in the show that shouldn’t have worked nearly as well as it did.
Braden returned later in the show to display her piano abilities for an upbeat, swung version of One Direction’s “Story of My Life” and a slightly eerie, forlorn rendition of “Time After Time” that earned a lengthy standing ovation – she truly commanded the stage like no other.
The improvisational quality of the show allowed for quite a bit of comedy as well, some ridiculous and unexpected moments popping up mid-song.
At one point, each musician was allowed a moment to shine. The piano player, Logan Evan Thomas, who had been playing the most complex passages all night, was saved for last and plunked out the simplest of melodies instead as the crowd roared with laughter.
Abrams’ goofy persona translated well to the more meme-worthy songs, belting out both “Stacy’s Mom” (with a kazoo!) and a 1950s-inspired version of “Africa” where he donned sparkly sunglasses and danced with a little girl in the front row, eventually picking her up and carrying her around the venue.
In another highlight, the female vocalists, Braden, Hannah Gill and Natalie Angst formed a classic three-part harmony trio at a line of mic stands for a version of “All About That Bass” that heavily featured bassist Steve Whipple.
Postmodern Jukebox’s greatest strength is their ability to get a crowd excited by material they know – music that is twisted with a music style they may not be as familiar with. The band tackled Rihanna, Diplo, Radiohead and even the Harry Potter theme, bringing them all into their unique musical world.
Postmodern Jukebox will return to the Vogue on March 12, 2019.