Wakey Wakey | 6.17.10

All three bands followed the current trend of employing wildly eclectic instrumentation, albeit with varying degrees of success.

You might know Mike Grubbs from the TV series One Tree Hill, but many know him only as the warmly charismatic piano man at the helm of Wakey Wakey, a folk-pop outfit from New York City that recently performed at Off Broadway along with support acts Union Tree Review and The Spring Standards.
 
All three bands followed the current trend of employing wildly eclectic instrumentation, albeit with varying degrees of success. For example, St. Louis’ own Union Tree Review featured the standard drums/guitar/bass setup but added auxiliary players on trumpet and violin. While the performers were certainly up to snuff musically, I feel that the latter was superficial and distracted from the strengths of the group; namely the introspective-yet-vulnerable vocals of Tawaine Noah and textural guitar work of his sidekick.
 
The Spring Standards took the stage amidst enough equipment to support the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but the trio’s lush vocal harmonies were the main attraction. They struck me as a kind of quirky country version of the Partridge family at first, but in a good way. And even though the band tours without a traditional drummer, all three of its members perform percussive duties to keep the crowd in motion. And the New York-based group provided the single greatest musical highlight of the evening with a stellar cover of Neil Young’s "Helpless."
 
By the time Grubbs and his bandmates assembled on stage, the venue was nearly full of fans ready to dance to the group’s lovable blend of indie pop.  They certainly weren’t let down as Wakey Wakey glided through a fun and intimate set featuring lots of smiles exchanged between artist and audience.  Interestingly, the group also featured a violinist but with much greater effect as the bowed chords added to Grubbs soaring piano arrangements.
 
All in all, it was a great night of music with three bands whose collective sounds complemented each other better than most three band bills I’ve seen.  Kudos to Steve Pohlmann and his ever-improving venue for putting together another hit in a great string of shows. | Corey Woodruff
 

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