Saturday, Dec. 15
At the end of it all, it's impossible to know where to begin, even when covering just a single night of The Great Cover-Up. And that's part of the thrill.
My "holy shit this is awesome" meter spiked repeatedly throughout the night, from the early Wolf Larsen set of gorgeously sung Leonard Cohen songs ("Hallelujah" in particular) straight through the David Clark Band's perfect vocal arrangement on Paul Simon's "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes."
Hank Topless was a stunner as Stevie Wonder, melding his own country-blues and Wonder's soulful funk into something right in between. Call it funky-tonk, perhaps, but "I Wish," "Superstition," "Higher Ground" and "You Haven't Done Nothing" never sounded quite like that before.
Some of Them Are Old delivered the Violent Femmes with an angst all their own, starting with "Blister in the Sun," then pausing midsong for a quick run through "Gone Daddy Gone," "Gimme the Car," "Kiss Off" and "Add It Up" before bringing the set full circle by finishing out "Blister."
The Electric Blankets tackled the Smiths with bombast and Raul Michel's spot-on crooning. "This Charming Man" in particular succeeded in combining the Blankets' mod-garage leanings with the Smiths' melancholy.
... music video? turned the Rialto into a frenzied dance club with an LCD Soundsystem set that recalled the film of James Murphy's final performance, an ecstatic, exuberant triumph.
Drummer Dave Mertz became frontman for Holy Rolling Empire's Tom Petty set, wearing a Pantera shirt that perfectly describes the heavy, wild renditions of songs like "Refugee" and "Breakdown."
In both costume and sound, the Tryst hit squarely on OutKast's spacey funk, playing a high-quality set that had the crowd dancing and singing along to every hit.
Fronted by guest singer Mandy Bergstrom, the Distortionists closed out the night with a loud and funky rendition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, pounding out "Suck My Kiss," "Aeroplane," "Give It Away," "Dani California," "Under the Bridge" and the night's second version of "Higher Ground."
The achievement of the Cover-Up is in its organization and execution as much as the performances. And the musical feast is so expansive and so pleasing that it's impossible to encapsulate.