"And The Beat Goes On" -- Dave Wakeling and band #review1999
Updated: Oct 22, 2019
Originally published in the Chico Enterprise-Record.
Dave Wakeling and band
Me-Yow (opening Chico band)
Sunday, September 12, 1999
Sunday night's show featuring Dave Wakeling and band and locals Me-Yow rocked a nearly empty Brickworks. The few audience members of the first ska show in Chico I've been to with such low attendance got treated to two special sets of English Beat and General Public nostalgia and an indulgent, fun band.
Opening the show was Chico's own very unusual group, Me-Yow. This trio of folks performs music louder and weirder than any band in Chico this decade.
Ringmaster Jesse scientifically worked his guitar over with props such as daggers and walkie-talkies, feeding back on the built-in pick-up while distortedly singing through a mic held up with a Habitrail of pvc pipes.
Drummer Nick manically attacked his drums driving the tempo of Me-Yow's eerie sound to a fervid pitch that bores into your head only to pop up at odd moments the next day.
During this, keyboardist Shoko calmly added to the menagerie, fingering twisty melodies suitable for a Bizarro-world carnival or a psychedellic ballpark organ.
I really like these guys.
The late announcement of their opening spot in the show must have taken their fans by surprise as their usual cast of devotees weren't there to mob the club with their antics. The remaining four of us didn't help much as we hid in the upper balcony of the bar leaving an empty dance floor to glare back at the band. They took it well and belted out some great tunes, paving the way for the equally high-spirited Wakeling and band to rock the house.
Since I was 12, I have loved Wakeling's voice. Few compare with his rich, supple lilt featured in the English Beat's many classics including "I Confess," the first of his songs I heard on late night KFM. Compounding his fame by leading General Public through the mid 80's and 90's, his voice jerked tears with "Tenderness," a now classic hit that currently plays an average of 236 times a weekend in American clubs.
Even with the very sparse attendance, Wakeling and Co. did their best to make us dance which we did despite an obnoxious feed-back problem towards the end of the first set. Correcting the problem, Wakeling had a little talk with the sound guy and encouraged the few people there to get on the dance floor to absorb the natural reverb in the hollow room. This seemed to work and I found my unhappiness over the botched sound melt away with the help of Wakeling's astonishingly lyric vocals and Fish's crystal clear drumming.
Band members included recruits from Bim-Skala-Bim, Unsteady, Fishbone and the Untouchables. Giving tight jams of English Beat and General Public songs, they won the skimpy crowd who made the most of the roomy dance floor to skank the night away.
Favorites included Beat songs "Rotating Heads," "Sooner or Later," "I Confess" and "Tears of a Clown" melded with General Public's "Tenderness," "Never You Done That," "Hot You're Cool" and the more recent, "I'll Take You There." Wakeling's high energy and obvious appreciation for his audience showed when he granted a latecomer's requested to perform "Twist & Crawl" as an encore after already playing it once, towards the top of the show.
During the break and after the show, Wakeling mingled with the crowd, thanking all for making the night memorable for him and the band. Telling me they'd been playing with Hootie and the Blowfish to crowds numbering in the thousands, he said they actually didn't mind playing to our crowd of 50. Throughout the sets he kept letting us know that even if we were a small house, they were still there to party the night away.
The Beat will be touring early next spring following the re-release of their entire catalog in October. One of Wakeling's new singles performed at the show is featured on the Internet at the mp3.com site under Dave Wakeling. In the future, the band plans on doing some Fishbone numbers with Wakeling as back-up vocals as well as other reminiscent songs.
Perhaps next time around, the "No Doubt" school of ska will recognize the merits of classic ska and provide a better turnout. Few performers have the moxie necessary to put on a good show despite a small crowd.