Whether her vocals were underwhelming due to a bad audio mix or because her voice is flagging after 15+ years of disuse, Powell was unable to sustain Save Ferris's momentum.
With a number of third-wave ska bands touring again in recent years (The Pietasters are currently on the road) it seemed like an ideal time for Save Ferris to return. The band's original demise came at a great cost, and the current line-up is far different from its last incarnation. Only lead singer Monique Powell remains following a departure by everyone else -- and she even almost lost the band name too. Fortunately, Powell regained the name and the newly revived ska-pop band just put out their third album Checkered Past as they hit the road in support of it.
Powell and the band were bursting with all the right energy at Save Ferris's Gramercy Theatre New York City show. But, save for a few bright moments and Gordon Bash's awesome upright bass antics, it felt like Save Ferris was floundering. Whether it was due to a poor vocal mix or because Powell hadn't treated her voice properly in 15 years, the "pop" was lacking in the night. The venue had filled up pretty well, but there were more people stuffed into seats or hovering around than on the floor skankin' (even if not all of the time). A fan even further on the fringe than the floor core went so far as to try and crowd surf. From further back, it seemed like he arrived at Powell's feet after pressing forward of his own volition and not by riding an undulating wave of love.
Of the audible highlights, there was "Your Friend" during which Powell's raspier voice (in comparison to the band's '90s albums) gave the cutting lyrics more bite and "Turn It Up" turned into an extended jam to get the crowd moving. However, the biggest attraction was watching Bash who switched to the upright bass on "Superspy" and then started cutting the rug with it. He twirled it over his shoulders, dipped it low and (later) even played astride the side of it. (If only this happened during the first three songs photogs got -- it would have been great!)
I never thought Save Ferris was a 9.5 but I did really enjoy both that album and 1999's Modified. Perhaps it was my fault I didn't enjoy the night. It was after all my first Save Ferris show, and I expected to hear tunes from their heyday pretty much how they were recorded. But Powell and co felt shambling -- they couldn't resuscitate Ferris after the band was first laid to rest 15 years ago.
Rude Boy George:
World Is New
Nobody but Me
Sorry My Friend
What You See is What You Get
Turn It Up
Everything I Wanna Be
Do I Even Like You
Come on Eileen
I'm Not Crying for You
March 7 Toronto, ON, Canada Lee’s Palace
March 8 Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theater
March 9 Ferndale, MI Loving Touch
March 10 Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge
March 11 Minneapolis, MN Fine Line
March 14 Denver, CO Bluebird Theater
March 15 Salt Lake City, UT Metro Music Hall
March 17 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theater
March 18 Vancouver, BC, Canada Venue
March 19 Seattle, WA Tractor Tavern
March 22 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst - Atrium
March 23 San Fransisco, CA The Independent
March 24 Sacramento, CA Harlow’s Night Club
March 26 Anaheim, CA House of Blues