It’s Saturday night and I’m prepared to spend my evening at a local dart tournament that my male companion has decided to enter. As the sun sets, however, I receive a message from my friend Ange Alex. She was set to cover the Elvis Royale show at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, but wasn’t feeling well and needed someone to attend the show in her absence. After a quick discussion with my dart playing dude, we agree to scrap the tournament and attend the show that would pair Big Mike Geier with the Dames Aflame Dancers and a full band known as The Kingsized Orchestra behind him. As someone who’d never experienced an Elvis Royale show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would Mike don a fake, cheesy wig? Would he be wearing a spandex jumpsuit, complete with cape? My friend and I quickly got ready, though he outshines me dressed in black slacks, a white button down shirt, a white dinner jacket, and a red tie housing about two dozen sparkly crystals. His look was topped off with black and white dress shoes, a pocket square, and diamond cuff links. Having just moved the day before, my dressier clothes hadn’t made their way to my new home, so I had to settle for jeans and a nice top.
We arrived at the theater before the show started and were met with a variety of fans. Some were dressed in their Elvis-y best while others were dressed in shorts and flip flops. Inside the Variety Playhouse and slightly to the left, the merch stand for Elvis Royale was set up, only there wasn’t a pimply faced kid selling glasses, tee shirts and fans to ward off the sweltering heat. Instead, ticket holders were met with a beautiful girl decked out in Vegas showgirl garb, complete with a feathery headpiece. My friend was quick to agree to a picture with the lovely lady! ;o) After grabbing a refreshing drink, we made our way to the front of the room and managed to wiggle into a space along the aisle. Soon, the band took the stage and in true Elvis fashion, the 2001 Space Odyssey music started. In a new twist, the guitar player flowed from the traditional song into Hot For Teacher by Van Halen! The guitar player proved to be an amazing musician as the night continued, combining classic Elvis songs with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and The Doors. Big Mike Geier then took the stage and launched into CC Rider. Immediately, I was smitten with the larger than life Geier who commanded the stage with not only his size, but with his stage presence. For the next three hours, my friend and I were swept up in the show that paired brilliant arrangements of Elvis favorites with stunning dancers who shimmied and left the crowd “all shook up”. (Sorry…I couldn’t resist the opportunity for the obvious pun there, lol.) The band played for nearly and hour and a half covering tunes like: Lil Egypt, In The Ghetto, Kentucky Rain, Stranger In The Crowd, Never Been to Spain, Bossa Nova, and a gospel medley of songs. A pint sized Elvis, affectionately called Little E, joined Big Mike for a duet of I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.
The band once again took the stage and began playing King Creole. Big Mike made his way to the stage through the crowd with a bevy of beautiful showgirls adorned with purple, green, and gold feathers and Mardi Gras beads in the style of a festive New Orleans parade. Big Mike and his cohorts launched into the second set of the night with as much enthusiasm and sparkle as they had performed the first set. They performed another stellar set of Elvis tunes as well as a few surprises! The set included: Polk Salad Annie, Burnin’ Love, Suspicious Minds, A Little Less Conversation, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Viva Las Vegas, and American Trilogy. During the second set, Big Mike took out his cell phone and requested the house lights to be brought up. Snapping a picture, he encouraged everyone to “go home and get on Facebook before bed and tag yourself in this picture!” He also stopped the show to comment on a Vegas show promoter who wondered if Big Mike could do the show without the backup singers? What about the horn section? Could he do the same show, but with less of a rhythm section? How about doing away with the Dames Aflame? Big Mike was met with a chorus of ‘no’s and even some ‘hell, no’s from a zealous fan standing next to me! All too soon, the show was over and the curtain closed. The crowd stood vigilant, however, and a moment later, Big Mike and The Kingsized Orchestra returned for an encore. Starting out slowly and very tenderly, Big Mike began singing I’ll Fix You by Coldplay. The crowd swayed and sang along quietly, relishing the night we’d all just experienced. As the song wound down, the band began the opening notes of When I Ruled The World by Coldplay. The tranquil atmosphere from just seconds before exploded into a jubilant party with the crowd singing loudly, clapping, and jumping around. In this moment, Big Mike and his Kingsize Orchestra proved that the Elvis Royale will rule the world for quite some time.
[box type=”info”] Don’t forget to check out our HD video interview with the man himself! Right Here!![/box]
Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad
Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.
Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”
Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.
The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.
Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair
The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.
What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.
Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.
Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.” The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.
Years & Years at Royale Boston
During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.
Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.
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