REVIEW: Postmodern Jukebox has fun turning back the clock

Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox, PMJ

Ariana Savalas, Sunny Holiday and Aubrey Logan of Postmodern Jukebox perform during a livestream concert on March 20, 2021. Screenshot courtesy Sessions.

Unlike many bands dipping their toes into the livestream arena, Postmodern Jukebox is used to playing at home for a camera. Having made its name on YouTube, the ensemble came in with the equipment and experience many others lacked.

Accordingly, for their hourlong online concert debut, the singers and musicians eschewed renting a venue, opting to set up on what appeared to be founder and bandleader Scott Bradlee’s back patio, right off a large, wood-paneled study with a fireplace and, of course, a piano.

When the digital curtain lifted they got right into it with U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” featuring Rogelio Douglas, Jr., one of the four rotating singers throughout the show. He and the rest were backed by Bradlee on piano; Adam Kubota on bass; Jacob Scesney on saxophone, clarinet and harmonica; and Dave Johnstone on drums. The band was nearly flawless, though obscured by the shadows of the patio’s eaves and, in Johnstone’s case, a large shrub.

Next up of the singers was Ariana Savalas—daughter of Kojak actor Telly Savalas—with a lounge-style version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Following that was Aubrey Logan for a jazz cover of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” and Sunny Holiday performing Radiohead’s “No Surprises.”

All three women performed as a doo-wop girl group on Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still.” It was a highlight of the show, and unfortunately one of only a few times multiple singers came on stage (or patio, in this case) to harmonize. With four singers and a repertoire of songs there were ample other opportunities to take advantage.

Following the team-up, Douglas came back for a Cab-Calloway-inspired cover of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The Calloway influence even extended to an opening round of “hi-de hi-de hi-de hi,” though it lost something since the call didn’t have an audience to respond. If the urban wildlife in the yard responded, the microphones didn’t pick it up.

Logan returned in full late-’60s regalia for Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets,” followed by Savalas for a sultry, piano bar cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” Savalas, a veteran cabaret performer, knocked the song out of the park.

Following a Bradlee/Holiday duet at the piano to give the band a break, Logan sang “Beauty and the Beast.” She was again followed by Savalas with Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” which hardly needed to be rewritten at all to fit Postmodern Jukebox’s throwback style, and sounded great.

Closing out the show was Douglas’ finale on John Legend’s “All of Me,” followed by all three women returning to each do a verse of the Meghan Trainor (and Postmodern Jukebox) hit “All About That Bass.”

Overall, what the show lacked in studio lighting—or a visible band—Postmodern Jukebox made up for in “fun factor.” This one had the feeling of a group of friends reuniting after a long quarantine, which it apparently actually was. There were the requisite hiccups, and it was somewhat short, but in all it was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

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