Vaudeville Smash 3-26-13, NYC

Dates: March 26, 2013

Location: The Bitter End, New York NY

Vaudeville Smash

BY ROBIN COOK

 Fresh from an exhilarating set at South by Southwest less that two weeks prior, Australian dance-pop outfit Vaudeville Smash took the stage at the Bitter End.  They arrived for their first-ever New York City show with two EPs, a batch of singles, and rave reviews as a live band under their belt.

Like New Zealand’s Ladyhawke, the band aims to remind the hippest of hipsters of certain truths they’re afraid to acknowledge: Those high-NRG, quasi-disco dance tunes of the late 1970s and 1980s didn’t suck.  In fact, a lot of them were amazing, and they made people smile and dance for a reason. 

 Vaudeville Smash’s hook-laden sound harkens back to the dawn of the MTV era with no smarm, snark, irony, or — thankfully — mullets.  They have one song called “Roller Disco” and an EP titled Love Yachts Geronimo.  Yes, that’s yachts as in the much-ridiculed genre of yacht rock.  Yes, they have a few songs that wouldn’t sound out of place on a yacht.  And yes, this band with their “unhip” influences had the audience grinning and bobbing their heads by the chorus of the first song, the shimmering “Strangest Dream.” 

The band’s EPs and singles lean heavily on breezy, catchy, upbeat dance tunes, with just the right amount of tongue in cheek.  Onstage, they stretched themselves, adding some lean funk and a sweet-natured piano ballad.  Marc Lucchesi, the group’s exuberant, self-effacing frontman, switched between singing, dancing, saxophone, flute, tambourine, and occasionally keyboards.  He gave shout outs to his bandmates and twice turned over lead vocals to his drummer brother, Dan Lucchesi while he picked up a tambourine or grabbed a drink.  Keyboardist James Bowers took the spotlight with a keyboard-and-vocoder solo that sounded totally, gloriously 1980s.

 The band’s SXSW set turned a small club into a dance party.  The Bitter End, with its rows of tables, didn’t have space for dancing, but the growing audience made up for it.  They boogied in their seats and burst into whistles and applause during instrumental breaks as the band was joined by a guest trombone player. 

 The final song, “Hey,” began slowly, followed by an adrenaline rush as the band kicked up the tempo.  Just like so many disco hits of yore.  Next up: the band’s debut album, scheduled for an April release.  Join the Vaudeville Smash on the dance floor.  You know you want to.

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