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Show review: The Band That Fell To Earth at Uptown Theater, 1.31.16

Show review: The Band That Fell To Earth at Uptown Theater, 1.31.16

David Bowie is a god of artistry, performance, and music. We are all created in his ever-changing image. Cool in our uncoolness, beautiful awkward outcasts, only appreciated and understood in our circles of the same. May it be Bowie as a distorted, sexy, sci-fi, glam-rock angel, or toying with the absurdity of gender and sexuality and what belongs to it, or Bowie as a poetic confrontational storyteller, or merely the voice of a collective us who seeks guidance and shelter from the normal; David Bowie changed the world.
 
On Sunday night, Bowie fans all over the metro came to pay tribute to our god. Upwards of 850 people showed up at the Uptown Theater, some with painted faces and all ready to do their part. This show was originally booked for Knuckleheads Saloon but moved when the demand became too great for it to handle. Our local musicians leading us in praise, calling themselves The Band That Fell To Earth, played more than 2 hours of Bowie—25 songs. And still left us wanting more. Always more Bowie.
 
Michelle Bacon, editor and writer for our very own Deli along with 90.9 The Bridge and Ink, on her cooler days plays bass for The Philistines and drums for Chris Meck and The Guilty Birds. She handpicked this very talented group of her friends and peers and coordinated a masterpiece of a tribute. Ultimately presented by The Deli KC, this performance was all created from the depths of her Bowie fandom. Kansas City thanks you, Michelle.
 
Michelle with her shiny hair, tight red pants, and perfectly played funky bass lines, wasn’t the only star onstage that night. Stephanie Williams was the other half of the rhythm section; she and her beautiful bangs play drums in Katy Guillen & the Girls. Kyle Dahlquist, of The Hardship Letters and Amy Farrand and the Like, took care of the synth and keys. Alex Alexander of Drop a Grand and SquidsKC melted faces with his lead guitar. Rich Wheeler, who plays with The People’s Liberation Big Band and Son Venezuela, was the brass section. Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt of the folk duo Betse & Clarke were the string section. Andrea Tudhope, Lauren Krum (The Grisly Hand, Ruddy Swain), and Rachel Christia (Hearts of Darkness) were personality and backup vocals. The main vocals were handled by Nathan Corsi of Not a Planet, Michael Tipton of Kodascope, and Steve Tulipana of Roman Numerals.
 
Besides the talent, the key to this tribute was the huge video screen behind the band (provided by XO Blackwater). It played clips of videos and live performances that went along perfectly with the set list all night. It gave us a needed tool to fully reminisce. It allowed us to compare dance moves between Bowie and whoever was taking on the vocals at the moment, which was a very fun element. The screen started the show with the “Lazarus” video—it sobered the crowd right up and we all remembered that we were in mourning.
 
The Band That Fell To Earth started their first set with “Let’s Dance.” The seats cleared and I became fully aware of what a special night this was going to be. Steve Tulipana carried the brunt of the lead vocals. I have been lucky enough to catch him in a couple of tribute projects, one being a Joy Division tribute. He became Ian Curtis that night and blessed us with the transformation into David Bowie on Sunday night. Steve brings icons back to life, just for one day. His moves, his vocals, and emphasis were captivating. He was David Bowie and the crowd loved it.
 
“Heroes” has been such a covered and loved track for so long. I’ve heard it recorded and covered live so many times. But something felt different about it on Sunday. This anthem, professing love and proclaiming individuality and how truly heroic these things are, is who David Bowie was. It is an anthem to me. It means so much. And Rich’s horn during this song was everything. Bless him and his contribution to this project.
 
Popular favorites “China Girl,” “Young Americans,” and “Modern Love” turned the crowd into a dance party. Old and young dancing and singing every lyric wildly at each other. But the real shock was the last song of the first set, where Nathan Corsi captivated the crowd with his vocal interpretation of “Life on Mars.” No one around me spoke. Some had tears in their eyes. Dressed in suspenders with his beautiful brunette mane, Nate was not Bowie. He was a fan. He was paying tribute. His voice represented how we all felt. He left his crowd blown away. We all needed an intermission to gather ourselves.
 
We came back from intermission with “Fame” and the stripper moves came pouring out. Michelle and Kyle became Nine Inch Nails on “I’m Afraid of Americans” and I cannot stress enough how spot-freaking-on this was. During “Suffragette City,” the screen above showed clips from Labyrinth and everyone took notice.
 
“Sound and Vision,” which is one of my personal favorite tracks, was done justice by Kyle on the keys. He was a vision (see what I did there?). “Space Oddity,” was taken on by Nate and Andrea. Andrea was center stage and ready to do her part to pay homage with Nate to her left. I felt nervous as these vocals felt like maybe they would be a stretch for anyone to take on. I was so wrong. They, along with the string and horn section, took us to church and made us all believers. It was one of many “WOW” moments of the show. But, not to be outdone, “Moonage Daydream” produced its own stars. Alex seemed to have been taken over by some sort of rock guitarist demon and Clarke broke his bow. Now THAT is rock ‘n roll.
 
The Band That Fell To Earth played an encore of “Rock n Roll Suicide” and “Under Pressure.” Michelle began the last song of the night with that bass line we all know so well. We prepared ourselves for the grand finale. The backup vocalists danced. All performers of the night graced the stage. David and Freddie took over the screen and we all celebrated, together.
 
David, thank you. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the courage. Thank you for instilling the belief that we are all ok as we are, no matter what that might be. Thank you for changing us and the world. RIP.
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts
 

 

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