Monday, April 07, 2014


In jazz, they're called standards, and there is no shame at all in that world playing songs that were written by somebody else. Indeed, the sense is more along the lines of "let's see how well they do 'Cherokee' or 'A Night in Tunisia.'" In rock and roll, however, in stark contrast, everybody's supposed to be Bob Dylan or Lennon and McCartney, and screw you if you're in a pathetic cover band.

But what happens when that cover band is absolutely incredible? What happens when their performances of well known and much loved pop and rock tunes rival the originals? How could you possibly call such a thing pathetic?

Last night I finally got around to seeing a couple of old friends, Paul English and Benjamin Hotchkiss, perform with their 70s cover band SKYROCKET! It was one of the best rock and roll shows I've ever seen. And I've seen some great ones over the years. But this was something else, to be sure. It's not simply that they were, to pull a phrase from Ween studio chatter, tighter than Steely Dan's butthole. It's also that there was a lot of real intelligence involved with how they approach the material, in terms of song choices, as well as a sort of tongue-in-cheek visual aspect that allows the audience both to take seriously while at the same time laugh at the fact that everybody in the venue is grooving to old great but sometimes cheesy pop songs.

I mean, I've never swooned to Air Supply's "All Out of Love" the way I did last night. For that matter, the moment when one of their singers - actually, they're ALL singers, and multi-instrumentalists, too - while performing Nick Gilder's "Hot Child in the City," held his mike out to the audience allowing us to sing the title line together as a crowd, well, it instantly became one of the top 25 moments of my entire life. No, seriously. It was just incredible.

There's a serious graduate thesis to be written about what this band is out there doing.

Go see Skyrocket. Go see Skyrocket. Go see Skyrocket. You'll believe in rock music again.