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Down the Line 2
By Sean Smith
Fort Wayne Reader
Generally, I don't enjoy cover bands and would prefer a band play original material, but when bands perform a solid block of songs by a particular artist, like at Down the Line 2, all bets are off. I can't argue with hearing some of the top local talent tackling material by rock icons.
On February 9th, a capacity crowd witnessed some truly magical performances. The Possum Trot Orchestra got things underway with their take on Neil Young and was it ever good. John Minton and Susan Suraci split lead vocals on such classics as “The Loner,” “Like a Hurricane” and “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.” Suraci even unveiled a brand new Possum tune, “Out of Bed,” that will hopefully wind up on the band's next album, tentatively due this spring.
The rock n roll assault team known as I, Wombat was next up a plethora of Cream. Guitarists Lou Cucinelli and Ben Larson proceeded to put on a face melting clinic, while bassist Darren Monroe and drummer Marc Accilien kept the rhythm locked in tight. Frontman Chad Fry was completely at home on the Embassy stage and did a fine job singing such hits as “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room” and deep album cuts like “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and 'Politician.'
Next up was Metavari, which provided the most goosebumps of the evening. It might have seemed curious that the instrumental band was tackling The Beach Boys, and not just any old songs by The Beach Boys, but Pet Sounds, an album known for its vocals. Any skepticism was washed clean away from the very first note. My head was spinning and I was slackjawed to the point of drooling. While the recorded vocals of Brian Wilson and the boys played out, Metavari mixed and matched the vocals with their original music overtop. It caused many 'A ha!' moments along the way, particuarly during “Sloop John B” and “God Only Knows.”
Kenny Taylor and The B-Sharps came onstage to play some songs by The Who. If you weren't there, then I really can't express what a truly awesome performance you missed. Their time on stage lasted approximately 25 minutes and included “Heaven and Hell,” “Can't Explain,” “Substitute,” “Happy Jack,” “I Can See For Miles,” “(Tommy Underture),” “Pinball Wizard,” “Long Live Rock,” “Boris the Spider,” “Won't Get Fooled Again” and “My Generation.” Taylor held down vocal duties for the majority of the set and did a fantastic job, but when B-Sharps frontman Keith Owen took over on “My Generation” the band kicked it into overdrive and nearly tore the roof off. A truly maniacal set that I will never forget, along with guitarist Mitch Frazier's white pantsuit.
The last set of the evening belonged to Moser Woods and, in a way, the entire evening belonged to Moser Woods. The trio — Shaun Brian on guitar, Lance Hoeppner on keyboards and Rick Kinney on drums — played a unique handful of Pink Floyd tunes. They created incredible versions of “In the Flesh” (which featured amazing vocals by Kinney) and teased the crowd with bits of “Set the Controls to the Heart of the Sun” and “Money.” They ended the night with, “The Bees,” a song from their forthcoming album. The crowd gave them a standing ovation. Well done, guys.
As I made my way out into the bitter cold, I couldn't help but begin to plot the rundown for Down the Line 3. Led Zeppelin? The Clash? Elvis Costello? Those would all be great, but I started working out my versions of Big Star classics yesterday. Matt Kelley, you know where to find me.