New, original music is fantastic, to say the least, and there’s no doubt about it. However, sometimes music fans want to jam out to their classic favorites with a little twist. Familiarity and innovation met on the 89 North stage on Friday, October 18th for Rockfest! a night packed with the quirkiest cover bands, and undeniable fun.
Fans poured into the venue at the start of the 7 p.m. door opening, eager to hear what was in store for them. With the first band starting at 8 p.m., music lovers had a chance to enjoy the calm before the storm, in the form of an ambient venue and their favorite craft beers. Some chose to pair their crisp beer with the last remaining crisp fall air under the festive lights of the outdoor patio, while others sat near the bar and enjoyed the company of each other and their friendly bartenders. Regardless of their location choice, it was clear that those in attendance were in good spirits and ready for the energetic night that would follow.
Lazy Bunny, Tradewinds, Alice In Coverland, and No Excuses would be the entertainment for the night, each of them sharing one common trait – they would play a medley of fan favorites – but that’s just about the only thing that they shared.
The Lazy Bunny Ukulele trio started promptly at 8 p.m. with The Clash’s “Rudie Can’t Fail”, and the audience was immediately captivated. It was shocking to hear a sound so full coming from a stage clad with only three ukulele’s and a drum kit. The band cruised through classics like “Psycho Killer” by The Talking Heads and A-Ha’s “Take On Me” all with their upbeat, and almost tropical, twist, proving that the best covers are those that don’t try to recreate a song, but change them into an entirely new experience. The band inserted some snark into their set by prefacing Pink Floyd’s “Time” by saying “The rule of the night – if you don’t recognize a song, it’s an original.” There is no doubt that every person in the venue heard at least one of their all time favorites at some point during the Lazy Bunny Ukulele Trio’s set.
Tradewinds kept the energy flowing by taking the stage with “Love Shack” and didn’t slow down until their set was over. The powerful voices of Tradewinds’ frontwomen met the harmonies provided by their bandmates with vigor and everyone from the sax player to the lead guitarist had an undeniable enthusiasm. The crowd loved Tradewinds as much as Tradewinds loved the crowd, and the chemistry was entrancing as the band played party favorites such as “Come On Eileen” and “Lady Marmelade”. By the time the band moved onto their cover of “You Should Be Dancing” by The BeeGees, the only people standing still were the one’s waiting patiently at the bar for their next round. Even the rhythmically challenged gave their own imitations of the bands synchronized dance moves to The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” a shot. Tradewinds ended their set with the ever appropriate “Play That Funky Music (White Boy)”.
The amount of energy that filled the room at only the halfway point of Rockfest! was incredible, and most of the crowd took the break between bands to take a seat or grab a slice of pizza from the back corner to recharge their batteries.
Alice In Coverland picked up right where Tradewinds left off, playing classic party hits such as The Jackson 5’s “ABC” but eventually transitioning into more contemporary hits. The crowd went crazy for current top 40 jams such as Rhianna’s “We Found Love” and Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”. The band even managed to turn “Starships” by rapper Nicki Minaj into an intense rock anthem. The highlight of Alice In Coverland’s set was easily their rendition of “Locked Out Of Heaven” by Bruno Mars. The band wrapped their set up with more classic rock covers. The crowd was so hyped up by the energy of Alice In Coverland that they begged for an encore.
The night had to go on, and although Alice In Coverland did not provide the crowd with the encore they wanted, the show was far from over. Shortly after Alice In Coverland ended their set, No Excuses took the stage with Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy”, an immediate reminder of how great of an era the ‘90s were for alternative rock. The trip down memory lane continued with hits originally by Harvey Danger and The Offspring, with the powerful musicianship of the No Excuses band members doing every moment of them justice. With a strong lead male and lead female vocalist, the band was able to cover all of the ‘90s rock bases, from girl jams like Hole’s “Oh Take Me Over” and Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” to “Drive” by Incubus” and “If You Could Only See” by Tonic. They even brought out the megaphone for an accurate and fierce rendition of Bush’s “Machinehead”. The crowd fed off of the energy from the band who so clearly loved the music they were playing, and the night ended as an anthematic sing along.
All in all, Rockfest! lived up to its name. Fans filed (or stumbled) out of 89 North Music Venue wholly satisfied by a night of great beer, great food, great company, and of course, great music.