Few things in life serve purely and completely for entertainment purposes and none other: whoopie cushions, Play-Doh, dust bunnies from under the bed, mullet haircuts. Everything else seems to get lost in the pressure of corporate America and the soap opera drama of everyday life.
And then there are the Suburban Legends.
Where some bands cite artistic license, the Suburban Legends allude to entertainment value. While some bands see live performance as a mundane ritual, the Legends capitalize off of it as a powerful medium and interactive perk. When other bands say, "It's been done," the Suburban Legends challenge, "Not by us."
It is unmistakably obvious that the Suburban Legends are simply not just "some band," for the simple fact that they won't-no, can't-let themselves be. Other bands have a "sound," have a "purpose," have a message. The Legends' message? "We just want everybody to watch and hear us, have a good time, be entertained," says trumpeter/vocalist Aaron Bertram. "If we've provided them some joy, we've done our job."
Indeed, to observe the band in the live arena is to truly experience them at their forte. Lightning quick costume changes, eye-candy choreography, exuberant jokes, and the commanding presence of a campy, theatrical front man provide for a show that is completely captivating, wholly joyous, a celebration of all that is amusing and engaging and delightful.
Do not, however, misinterpret their flamboyant technique and musical-theatre-meets-performance-art-meets-Bob-Fossey-style dancing as reason to take them any less seriously than any other guitar-wrestling, woe-inspiring band in the business. To be sure, the band is "youth with instruments," but somehow in its young conception has managed to garner inspiration, however directly, from myriad eras and genres.
One spin of their five-track self-titled EP released on Orange County-based We the People Records in September 2001 provides proof positive: From the funk-inspired riffs at the opening of "I Want More" to the velvety vocal stylings on the down-tempoed "AID" to the slaphappy chorus of "Desperate," the listener is keen to the influence of Curtis Mayfield as much as Danny Elfman, from a band like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones as much as the cast of "West Side Story," all blended together in keen, original form. Lead vocalist Chris Batstone has the presence of Queen's Freddie Mercury, backed by a group so tightly in sync they could put the UCLA marching band to shame. Never mind that they all met in high school marching band, anyway.
How fitting, then, that they would bring their charismatic aura to the brightly lit stage at Disneyland, or that they would share the stage with ska heroes Fishbone , The Aquabats, and Reel Big Fish. What they lack in history (the current lineup is just over a year old) they compensate for with innate pop music comprehension, performance instinct, and sheer confidence.
The Suburban Legends take the word "entertainment" to a higher, grander level than most can even fathom, granting it more significance and substance than most will ever dream. They approach entertainment with a seriousness that must not be mistaken and a sensibility that must not be seen as motive. There is purity to their candor that titillates and connects audiences, people that range in age, uniform, color, and taste but are joined in their simple search for a good time.