About an hour into Postmodern Jukebox’s 90-minute set inside the Silver Legacy’s Grande Exposition Hall, emcee LaVance Colley slowed the show’s pace for a moment and thanked the audience, mentioning that the collective of musicians, vocalists and dancers are able to tour to crowds excited to see them despite having no backing from a large record label.
In fact Postmodern Jukebox snowballed to popularity from recording YouTube videos of their performances of contemporary radio pop and hip-hop songs performed in refined old-timey styles, so much so that the current groups are able to embark on multiple tours simultaneously using the same formula but with a changing cast of performers.
The result is a musical show that takes on almost theatrical proportions with the differing combinations of singers and dancers on each successive song. And what puts everything over the top is the fact that each of the vocalists seem to have nothing short of powerhouse abilities.
Fronting a five-piece backing band of piano, stand-up bass, drums and a horn section, the group went through a set featuring a swing-style rendition of Lana Del Rey’s “Young And Beautiful,” a burlesque treatment of Britney Spears’ “Oops!…I Did It Again,” a vaudevillian performance of Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” and an a four-piece a capella delivery of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop.”
Working with the theater’s seating up to the edge of the stage, the front corners of the room became designated dancing areas, with couples twisting, swinging and even flipping along with the band’s songs. The group’s retro musical style was mirrored by many in the crowd who showed up in flapper outfits and hair to a T, and it seemed that the wide range of ages present in the audience sang along throughout the show.
Among a set list that included songs originally performed by Ellie Goulding, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Celine Dion, Cee Lo Green and Haddaway, highlights of the show were the set-closing rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, and LaVance Colley’s range-shattering vocals for “Halo” by Beyonce. Not a person remained sitting down during the ovation that followed.
As an especially receptive place for Postmodern Jukebox’s self-fueled efforts to create and promote its project, it seems that few cities embrace an organic art scene in their image as much as Reno. For those in attendance for the group’s stop here, it was that creativity and collection of sheer talent and ability that shined.
– Shaun Astor