Monday, October 25, 2010
It's this all-over-the-map approach that makes RMB's live show - not to mention their latest album, Heavy on the Vine - so entertaining. It's just kinda difficult to describe what it sounds like. Imagine if Maroon 5's Adam Levine joined a band that didn't suck, and you'd at least be in the ballpark. Montbleau can certainly pull off the white-boy soul sound that Levine has built a career on, and on occasion, he does, but he's not content to stop there. Thanks to a backing band that includes a drummer, keyboardist, fiddle player, bass player (who alternated between stand-up and electric) and an additional percussionist (bongos, mostly), singer/guitarist Montbleau is able to genre-hop like few others can.
The band opened with "Slippery Road," a bouncy, funky, mid-tempo number that immediately filled the dance floor despite (or perhaps because of?) verses that feature a melody and cadence nearly identical to "Here Comes Santa Claus." The crowd - a sizable contingent for a Sunday evening show - appeared to be familiar with Montbleau's catalog, singing along and dancing throughout the set. Highlights included the reggae-tinged "Songbird" and the revival-tent-worthy gospel energy of "I Can't Wait."
In a time when so many artists aim for the lowest common denominator, it's refreshing to see a band that's willing to take chances. RMB isn't afraid to challenge their audience, and perhaps even more surprisingly, their audience seems to appreciate them all the more for it. It might not be a formula for fleeting, multi-platinum success, but it's a long-term strategy that cultivates an extremely loyal fan base that will buy every album, come to every show and spend money at the merch booth. Maybe some of those cookie-cutter bands should take note...