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Band Review

After Thought
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Band Review

I saw a band call After Thought at the Parkview on Saturday. They were billed as a Motown band but I would say that less than fifty percent of their material was actually Motown. They started with an "After Dinner" set which was just the band jamming. This consisted of mostly blues tunes with no vocals. Their first real set was their best. I think they blew all their rehearsed material in that set. They have some very capable players but Motown is a very understated musical style and I think they forgot that. They had a few moments of brilliance and with a little musical direction they could be great. They were fun to watch and considering there was no cover charge they were worth seeing. I wouldn't pay to see them yet but they may be just starting up and if that’s the case they could be a force to recon with somewhere down the line. They were a very large band with nine members.

The drummer had a cage set with very shallow shells. I'm not sure why he brought all that stuff since he never played anything but the kick snare and hihat. His kick was always on 1-2-3-4. I would consider him to be the weakest member of the band and the tambourine often outplayed him.

The bassist had an Ampeg B-100R combo amp. It was amazingly loud and powerful for a solid state 1x15 combo. It didn't sound that great as it was overdriven and too loud. He was a very talented player but overplayed his parts and was way too fond of his autowah effect. He played a Charvel 5 string which must be an older model as it couldn’t be found on the Charvel/Jackson web site.

The keyboard player was very good although sloppy. He played many sour notes but usually recovered well. He could play very well when he wanted too but his rig didn't sound that good as he was being heard through an over taxed PA. He also played tenor sax. He was a really good player and I enjoyed his playing every time he pulled it out.

They had two guitar players. The first guy used a Fender Strat going through a very small Ampeg guitar amp. It looked like a J-12T but couldn't have had more than a 10 inch speaker in it. That is a class A series of amplifiers and I'm sure that amp would get surprisingly loud for a 10 inch speaker but he relied completely on the PA for projection. He was rarely heard which was good because he wasn't a very dynamic player.

The second guitar player was the better of the two. He could really rip when he wanted to. He had a great feel for rhythm parts and played some very fast and sophisticated solos. He tended to be sloppy but usually recovered well. He is obviously Wes Montgomery or George Benson influenced as he was fond of using octave riffs. He used a Dean guitar with a Gibson SG body style that must be an older model as I couldn't find it on their web site. It was a Gibson SG style body. He also had an Epiphone ES335 for back up but never used it. He was using a Line 6 amp with a single 12 inch speaker and an extension cab with a second 12 inch speaker. He placed the extension cabinet about 3 feet away from the amp. The clean sounded ok but the distortion channel was poor. It’s a good thing he rarely used it. He also relied on the PA for projection.

The harmonica player was great. I think he is associated with the bar and plays with just about any band that plays at the Parkview as I’ve seen him sit in with just about every band I’ve ever seen there. He plugs a mic into a 40 watt 1x12 Fender Deville and uses the overdrive channel. His tone is tremendous and his playing is nearly flawless.

There were five vocalists is all. The second guitar and bass player sang along with three female singers. The Ladies could really belt it out. Each one in turn would take a solo part. They were tearing it up on these Motown tunes but unfortunately their level in the mix was inadequate. Their stage presence was awesome. At least one of them would play auxiliary percussion from a wide range of instruments on every song. When the guys were singing they would stand out front and dance as though they were part of the audience and would coax people to get up and dance. As each took their turn at lead vocal they would take the microphone in their hand and step ahead of the others. Each one of the ladies could sing as well as the others and they were all great. The guys could sing great too but were overshadowed by the women.

The PA was fronted by a pair of JBL mains that just cooked. The source signal was poorly mixed and the whole band depended on the PA but those mains were incredible. I’ve had the opportunity to see JBL speakers in use on numerous occasions this last year and have been very impressed every time. They had a mid sized mixer along with an amp rack consisting of a stereo EQ but I couldn’t discern any of the other gear.

The song that got the greatest audience reaction was Brick House. At least twenty people immediately hit the dance floor when they played that song. It wasn’t even one of their better performed songs but that apparently didn’t matter. They did great renditions of Chain of Fools and Voulez vous couche avec moi, ce soir.