Last night in St. Helens, the Scapoose cover band Hit Machine played three sets of music to an audience that was large and fairly active during most of the material, as well as fairly generous with dancing and clapping and laughing at the lead singer’s jokes. In some ways the band seemed very polished, graciously thanking sponsors, talking up their ability to perform for weddings and other events, and introducing some members of the band (namely drummer Kenny Davis and keytar player Blake Tsakamoto) multiple times, while the rest of the band was not introduced at all that I could hear. Given the mostly familiar songs the band sang, most of which were old songs (if unexpected choices at times), most of the audience was attentive and singing along, even if there was one person there who was mostly scratching notes and reading The Hunger Games.
In many ways, the musicality of the band was pretty impressive. There was a lot of dancing (with a strikingly young set of groupies dancing in the front). The musicians in the band had some real virtuosity–there were solos for all of them, like at a Toto concert . During one of the songs, “Anyway You Want It,” the band called up Linda Sterling (one of the audience members) to sing backup vocals. And given the fact that the singer was a little bit pitchy throughout (even he commented on it while singing, referencing American Idol a few times), it is little surprise that the band took advantage of having audience singalongs during some of the more familiar songs. The fact that the songs were filled with somewhat nonsensical lyrics, as were the interludes, added a bit of a wild card to what would have been expected to be a fairly tame performance of well-known chestnuts from the classic rock songbook.
This is not to say that the song choice was blameless, as the band chose to sing a lot of songs that were not particularly family friendly. This was especially true of some of the new songs like “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines.” Given the large amount of kids and families that were present, it was a bit surprising to see that while the singer added plenty of nonsensical lines and raps, he sang most of the songs pretty straight, including mild profanity as well as plenty of lewd and suggestive lyrics. Now, I am aware that I pay more attention to song lyrics than most people do, given that I pretty regularly write about them , but I cannot imagine that everyone is entirely ignorant of what is being sung in a concert like this one. Those who were listening cannot have been uniformly pleased with the choice of songs.
Whatever the mixed feelings about song choice, though, there is one aspect of the concert that cannot be faulted. Columbia View Amphitheater is an amazing venue. It is cozy, comfortable, filled with friendly company and beautiful views. As this performance was not deafening (which can sometimes be the case ), it is clear that there is at least some sound control for the singers, depending on how skilled they are at using the a/v equipment (assuming they do not have a dedicated sound tech themselves). Still, if it was not a great concert, it was a good one at times, and the company was enjoyable, and for a free ticket, it was a worthwhile time, and certainly well worth repeating for the right band. Columbia has a good idea with its 13 Nights Of Summer–all that is needed is to pick bands that know their audience and play appropriately for it. That is often much easier said than done, though.
“Get Down Tonight”
“Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”
Medley – “Good Times” / “Ice Ice Baby” / freestyle rap
“Another One Bites The Dust”
“Kiss” – interlude
Medley – “I’m Yours”/”Three Little Birds”
“I Want You To Want Me”
“What A Wonderful World”
Medley – “Le Freak”/”Thrift Shop”/”Groove Is In The Heart”
Medley – “Jungle Love”/”The Bird”
Medley – “September” / “Alright” / “Boogie Woogie”
“Don’t Stop Believin”
“Anyway You Want It”
“Takin’ Care Of Business”
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 See, for example: