Looking up on stage and seeing Bryan Stratman’s triple deck of keyboards is the first and alluring sight of the night. My first thought is that is going to be interesting. Crash Encore is about to take the stage and the energy out in front of the stage is evident. I haven’t seen the Beauty Bar this busy in a while. As the gents take the stage, I notice that there is a new drummer playing with them. Mike Cooper of local band, Transfer, is sitting in for Christian Cummings behind a silver sparkle DW kit. Having seen these lads before, I am intrigued.
Jon Bishop, formerly of Off By One, takes center stage donning an outfit worthy of any old westerners envy, looking like one of Wyatt Earp’s henchmen. Crowned with a great hat and startling eyes, he commands the attention of the onlookers as they start right in with their signature carnival-pop sound. The three part harmonies are dripping off the stage in Beatle-esque fashion. The band is bouncing, “When all I hear is the same sad news, all I fear is it’s gonna get to you.”
Bryan and Jon
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Bryan leads off the next tune with a classical-ragtime interlude on his Helpinstill piano, which rumor has used to belong to the Allman Brothers. This is such a break away from his days with Honey Bucket, but a truly welcome evolution. They break into one of their hits, “So Long”. There is a great video on their web site for this tune, but I prefer the live version. “It’s been so long since I’ve been loved”, sings Jon, while the cascade of soft harmonies surround your eardrums. Mike is a solid drummer, and it is apparent that he is playing in the pocket. The rest of the band works well around his and, bass player, Jackson Price’s rhythm foundation. Jackson is hard to miss as he has the biggest hair on stage. He also plays some solo music worth checking out sometime.
Bryan takes command with the keys again, jumping seamlessly between the case piano and the Nord Electro 2. A very talented player, composer and recording engineer. He moonlights as owner of Capricorn Studios. “Oh what a beautiful mess”, sings Jon. This number ends with an a capella three part harmony that I think is the show stealer. After all this energy, though, it’s nice when they slow down a pace and offer something completely new. A thrill between the carnival and a more mainstream alternative, but all together refreshing. People start dancing as the coda sounds like a tilt-a-whirl losing control.
Now this is serious. Crash Encore have promised a new song a week for one full year. If you are signed up on their e-mail list, you’ll get a new mp3 each week. That is seemingly very ambitious, but they are on week 18 and they haven’t lost a step yet. This newest song is reminiscent of the upbeat melodies of The Jam, I am drawn in at once. Finally, I am seeing TJ Royer coming through with his lead guitar. Up until this point, I felt he was too well blended in. Now he commands his presence with some interlaced guitar melodies.
The rest of the set maintained an air of manic electricity. The crowd moved, Jon’s vibrato carried, Bryan’s fingers danced and Mike held it all up there. The last song ending in a nearly Irish drinking song chant, “Oh, I’ve been running around.” The crowd hollers for an encore, but they are disappointed. I think that shows should start and end, so I support their decision and this keeps the fans ready for the next time.
This group is definitely on the verge of something. They are song writing machines and all very talented musicians with a pedigree that is apparent in their live show. Give their CD “Volume 1” a spin and come join the next round up.
- City: San Diego
- Performance: Crash Encore
- Name: The Beauty Bar
- Address: 4746 El Cajon Boulevard