Wakey!Wakey! at the House of Blues
–>by E. M. Serensky
The House of Blues’ Cambridge Room came to life on June 15th with music, energy, and fun! The Spring Standards opened for the New York-based indie-rock/pop band, Wakey! Wakey!. The room was full of faithful followers and soon-to-be fans.
The Spring Standards, formed by James Cleare, Heather Robb, and James Smith set the mood for the evening with their lively rocking-folk sound and energetic stage presence. Even crutches didn’t slow down Robb’s driving vocals and rhythmic presence. The guitarists were equally as great, both singing lead on multiple songs.
The Spring Standards
All three musicians are very well rounded and multi-talented. Their musical styling can easily be summed up as heavy folk with a splash of rock. Some songs are harder than others; Some are more country than others; and some are just a little bit of everything. Always bouncy and always catchy. They took a Tom Waits song, “Come on Up to the House”, and made it their own. It was powerful, soulful, and stylish.
Not only did the Spring Standards each play their own percussive instrument, thus making their own drum set, they each played multiple instruments. In total, the band had enough equipment with them to be used by a 10-piece soul band. They were definitely a great act to follow.
Wakey! Wakey! took the stage and was greeted by many screams, cat calls, and of course, a lot of applause. Due to the cheering, many females in the audience made it difficult for lead singer, Michael Grubbs, to finish a thought. He, along with James Cleare’s sideburns, got most of the cat calls for the evening.
Wakey! Wakey! had a substitute-band member for the evening: Melissa Tong played the violin, sang backing vocals, and was the lead whistler. Spencer Cohen, percussionist, made his Wakey! Wakey! performance debut and didn’t miss a beat. Of course, Wakey! Wakey! was not without Tanya Buziak on backing vocals and Anne Lieberwirth laying down the beat on bass.
Wakey!Wakey!: Grubbs and Anne
The band’s style can best be described as piano-pop meets singer-songwriter rock. But it gets even deeper than that. These musicians understand music. They know how it works and they make it come alive. They feed off of one another, keeping a rock steady tempo, while throwing out solos, all smiling the entire time.
They trust each other’s musical capability. They play songs like “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun” (in ballad form), then follow it up with their own compositions, “Falling Apart”, an upbeat pop anthem. Most of their songs seem almost flawless and complicated in composition and performance; Something that is rare in the music world today.
The bands had fun and so did the audience. Deemed as one of the “best singing audiences ever”, the crowd sang along to many Wakey! Wakey! songs and seemed to know all of the words. The Cambridge Room audience really got into the sing along pop stylings of “The Oh Song”, especially the men in the room. They blended perfectly with Grubbs’ flawless vocals and killer piano skills.
Hopefully the bands return to the area very soon. I would recommend seeing both of them. Wakey! Wakey! made their first (hopefully of many) appearances in Ohio and found amazing success. The Spring Standards have appeared in Cleveland before, but seemed to really enjoy their House of Blues experience. It was a great venue and musical experience. Both bands have it all: the talent, the looks, the drive, and the fun factor.