Showmanship and Vocals: How to Spend a Summer Night in Saratoga

If you were smiling in Saratoga on Wednesday night, you were probably at the Performing Arts Center singing along to Post Modern Jukebox and Straight No Chaser.

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PMJ took the stage to “All About That Bass,” performing the familiar tune in a jazzy 1940s style. Complete with costume, dancers, and instrumentation, PMJ didn’t disappoint fans of the well-loved YouTube sensation.  While the songs were from today’s radio, anyone listening could’ve sworn we were transported back in time to radio days of our grandparents.

Group member Ariana brought the laughs, and sultry energy, as she sang, danced and introduced each song. The group brought out Demi to tap while Casey crooned to “Umbrella,” complete with a costume of yellow raincoat and umbrella. Demi then gave as close to a burlesque show as possible as she sang to “It Wasn’t Me,” and brought the laughs with self-deprecating jokes.

The big moments of the night, though, were stolen by Kenton, a small Asian man who pulled off Nine Inch Nails “Closer” with unexpected energy. Joined on stage by Ariana and Dani, Kenton jumped, gyrated and sang a shockingly charged version of the well-known song. 

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Casey’s rendition of “Creep” was the only thing that could follow such a performance. He crooned and laughed at himself initially, only to later bring the crowd to its feet with his vocals. Barely needing a microphone, Casey belted out “Creep” with possibly the most talented vocals of the show.

Straight No Chaser followed the zany PMJ with more traditional energy and vocals. Noticeably more focused on harmonizing while wearing their matching summer suits, the group opened with “Sweet Dreams” with a nod to “Make Your Hands Clap” mid-song.

Band members graciously demonstrated the different vocal parts of an a cappella group, for those who were unfamiliar, joked with audience members and learned the history of the group’s college origins. The singers played around with musical lyrics, performing “Straight No Chaser: The Musical” to the amicable crowd.

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Straight No Chaser demonstrated professional cohesion and musicianship, and also a joyfulness to quality music that comes from sharing best-known songs from across all genres. From pop music to country, the group offered something familiar for everyone to sing and dance to.

All and all, it was a fun night out for fans of the non-traditional cover groups.

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