No one would hold it against me if I told you that my sister’s band, Beebs and Her Money Makers, played a great set the other night. They would think it only natural if I said they were great to my wife by wishing her a happy birthday and playing a bar of Happy Birthday for her 45th from the stage. They would also be right to think the band (whom I now consider “friends”) were given credit for giving hugs — sweaty and otherwise– to my daughters. Beside giving them their props for being fine human beings, I would want you to know that — as musicians — <em>they kicked butt and took names last night </em>at Toad’s in New Haven, CT.
The band was part of five bands there on the “Don’t Stop Skankin’ Tour”, with Reel Big Fish and we stayed for three or four bands (the last one too briefly to count really). There was a good Green Day- type band, another band that played something between old style punk and thrash. Each had their niche but none particularly made you think, “I have <em>got</em> to hear them again”. I can’t say anything about Reel Big Fish. My sister tells me they are legends at home, but we had to leave before they hit the stage.
Beebs and the band, however, felt like they were too “big”for the place, even with a smaller Monday night crowd. Bands who are “too big for the place” play there all the time. Toad’s is one of those famous places that’s second-tier. If you’re on your way up you play there. If you’re on your way down from “stardom”, you play there. If you are the Rolling Stones and you want to play a club where you can see people’s faces again, you play there. U2 played their first American gig there, to a crowd of 60 people, someone on staff told me. I heard later that Madonna wanted to play there recently. Beebs and Her Money Makers felt like one of those bands <em>on their way up</em> at Toad’s last night. It wasn’t anything you could particularly put your finger on, but it was palpable and it was real. This is a <em>great</em> live band. They were tight, musical, charismatic and obviously enjoying themselves. When the band did “(I’m not) Crazy” with the Aaron Barrett from Reel Big Fish joining them, there were smiles all around, even as they stayed in their groove.
The band, not being from around here had to announce themselves to the local crowd and they did with some ska and then a blistering version of “Mrs. Captain Kangaroo”,Lovelady’s rocking guitar parts waking the crowd from their doldrums.
Once they had the crowd’s attention, there was a new song which had a dance part as it’s “hook”. Your average band has a musical hook when they are on fire . Beebs and the band had a James Brown-feeling hook musically and she taught the crowd a jump-slide dance part to get them <em>into</em> it. Bunky Garrabrant, the trumpet player, and the rest of the band immersed them in it and making it look easy. The band had a groove and now the crowd was a part of it. From there, the band kicked it into high gear with “Handout” and never looked back.
Among incredible pieces to the set: Beebs rejected a giant robot in the middle of a song, throwing down a giant rose in a display of human petulance. Sax player E. Money (a favorite of my daughter’s) jumped into three or with tight but incredible solos standing on the drumkit and the front of the stage. Drummer Paul Brisske kept beats to back up all of the moods the music conveyed — mostly pure fun. The bass player had the English Beat-type ska well within his grasp and the band danced through the evening, showing off their tightness, funkiness and soul.
Perhaps the strangest part of the evening was when the band covered Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”. Due to her twerking antics, the song has been all but ruined for me, but the band redeemed Cyrus’ crassness with a passionate, ska- filled “wre, e, e, cked me” belted out with the voice of Beebs, with her costume and tail (yes, actually a tail) in full scream.
The set mixed new and old, highlighting songs from the new CD — Crazy, A Night’s Dream, and Running Away featured prominently, plus some of the best of the first three CDs. The show was an unqualified success from a band on its way up.