VENUE: 1048 JAZZ AND BLUES BAR, MONTGOMERY, AL
Living in Montgomery, it seems that I am subjected to cover bands more than I was in St. Augustine. Truth be told, St. Augustine spoiled me. However, much as I harp on cover bands, they’re not really a bad thing. There is a world of difference between a group who plays covers well and one who writes bad songs and can hardly play their instruments. Miss Used was a perfect example of how much fun, and exactly how good, a cover band can be.
I judge a band on 3 main things:
1) Their sound (how well they play)
2) Their energy
and 3) Their creativity.
How much of a show they put on is also nice, but (to me) more of a bonus that often accompanies point 2.
I should note that, by creativity, I don’t just mean in their songwriting ability. A lot of talent goes into taking a known song and making it your own. Take for instance Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nail’s song “Hurt.”
The words themselves don’t change, but the meaning behind them when Cash sings does. He owns that song as if it were his own.
That being said, Surgestone, while really good, wasn’t anything special. They only had a fraction of the energy of Miss Used. (But then, there were only 2 members there this night, both of whom remained seated during the performance. I imagine, if I got to see the entire band, it would be more energetic.) And while far from owning the songs they performed, they put enough of their own flair to keep the songs from being radio copies. The only dancing came from a trio of drunk Japanese men.
Don’t misunderstand me, though. They weren’t boring. Their sound was excellent. It was an enjoyable experience. It was understandable why the 1048 was so crowded. It didn’t hurt that they played a lot of 90s music, either. A lot of really good music came out of that decade. (It doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that I grew up in the 90s and am nostalgic about the music. No, really, it doesn’t…mostly.)
Surgestone obviously enjoys playing music, and it shows. Likewise, the audience seemed to really enjoy them, even if there was little dancing. According to their Facebook page, only half of the band was present. I’m sure, with the hole band, their performance would have been excellent. Even so, they are really good, and I look forward to seeing them again. Hopefully, next time I’ll get to see the whole band!