October 14, 2012
SUPPER SESSION EARLY SHOW - Ninety minutes and you are home in time for The Good Wife
Red Elvises’ songs aren’t necessarily poetry, though they do rhyme. And they’re guaranteed smile-makers, whether the subject is rocket men and women in space, or sad cowboys and drinking with Jesus, or bellydancing and beer. And more beer. And more beer. And more beer.
Did I mention the beer? I did? Good, because Red Elvises excel as a party band. Yuzov is hilarious, playing to the crowd by cupping his hand to his ear Hulk Hogan-style to encourage louder cheering, and bellowing repeatedly into the mic: “Are you having fun!?” He’s the ringleader, a larger-than-life character who commands the room as ably as he commands his guitar. Imagine if Chuck Berry and Mikhail Gorbachev had a kid, and that kid was the Director of Drunken Sweaty Fun on some hedonistic cruise ship. Yuzov is that kid.
He’s also the leader of a pretty snappy band, really. Red Elvises are a hall of nations: According to Yuzov, the bassist (wearing tiger stripes) is an Israeli and the female guitarist (new-wave haircut) is Puerto Rican. Keyboard player and founding member Oleg Bernov (floral print suit) is from Russia, and the two drummers (one female in leopard-print and one male in red sequined suit) are American. (The band played its first set with the gal behind the kit, and its second with the guy. A huge fan told me it’s the guy’s last tour, and the gal is learning songs as she goes along.)
Together, they’re quite good at what they do. If you look past the jokes and the retro dance moves and whatnot, Red Elvises are a tight combo, totally adept at anything they try, be it surf music, ’50s rockabilly, reggae, doo-wop, lounge-pop, or whatever. The first set seemed focused more on traditional songs, while the second featured more instrumentals and individual solos. Near the end of the night — either before or after the conga line, I can’t remember — the band effortlessly shifted from a psychedelic guitar riff into “Hava Nagila.” It was sublime.