On this a rainy Wednesday night, Arlene’s Grocery was dead town. My best guess is that it was quiet all night up until Blah Blah Blah took the stage. I don’t know where everyone came from, but Blah Blah Blah conjured them up from somewhere to get out on the floor. Not that it all happened immediately.
The band took the stage subtly, but keyboard/guitarist Phillip Ferguson quickly proved himself to be quite the ball of energy. The group had an old-fashioned look, all dressed in sport coats and ties, and Ferguson had all the classic moves to go with the look; throwing in dances like the twist and variations on the Charleston. He showcased more scene moves like fist pumps, fervent headbangs, and high jumps to show his energetic diversity. At times it was a little over the top, but it worked. After jumping down from the stage to dance with the crowd a few times, people approached the stage until they were dancing and yelling for the band. A few girls screamed even louder when, during their last song, he leaped so high he pants fell to his knees. By the final note, his trousers were completely off. Below is a capture of their song “Have You Seen Her,” while Ferguson’s pants were still on.
Blah Blah Blah are claiming to establish the ballroom rock genre, mostly due to singer/guitarist Solomon David’s smooth, melancholic croon and melodic guitar. The band’s sound is certainly more elegant and refined than their name might suggest. They’ve been compared to The Smiths, and their recent EP, Thank You Thank You, was produced by Matt Walker, who is currently Morrissey’s drummer. David has similar charisma about him, and quick wit in response to any song flubs and crowd interaction. “When we mess up, it’s called jazz,” he informed us.
Besides any Morrissey influences, Blah Blah Blah showcased a well-rounded sound that also drew from 50s rock and a little bit of funk and soul with a borderline disco edge. There were a couple of filler songs with hardly any distinguishing characteristics, but all and all, it was like they took a little bit of everything from the 1920s on (the Charleston moves count) and polished it for their own ballroom. The outfit could easily play a 50s-themed retro prom or a black tie event, or a little venue called Arlene’s Grocery in the Lower East Side of NYC. There was such a good vibe going that they were able to play two more songs past their stop time. The one song they didn’t play was their single, “Why Am I the Only One Laughing.” Video for that below.
However, it won’t be the last ball. Blah Blah Blah will be at Freddy’s Bar and Backroom tonight, Kenny’s Castaways on Oct. 16th, and the Thompson LES hotel as part of CMJ. You can check out all upcoming tour dates on the band’s tumblr.
All photos (c) Kelly Knapp