Save Ferris Take Over Gramercy Theatre, NYC 3-4-17

Anyone needing proof that absence does make the heart grow fonder, look no further than Ska Punk veterans Save Ferris. Begun out in Orange County, California back in in 1995, like many bands, they started from the ground up, selling their 1996 EP, Introducing Save Ferris, out of the trunks of their cars. 

With a name inspired by the iconic 1986 John Hughes movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Save Ferris would follow-up with the successful 1997 full-length, It Means Everything. Following with a spot on the main stage at 1998’s Vans Warped Tour, two singles in the Billboard top 100, and their sophomore album, Modified, in 1999, Save Ferris were a force to be reckoned with. Since then, they have survived several lineup changes and a hiatus, but thankfully, lead lady Monique Powell has kept the dream alive.

Now, after seventeen long years, Save Ferris returns with brand new original material with the release of their five track EP, Checkered Past. Released back on February 10th, in celebration of the band’s return, the very same day, they kicked off their New Sound 2017 Tour that takes them coast to coast through March 26th. A tour which finds Save Ferris with Vista Kicks on the West Coast dates and Baby Baby on the East Coast dates, on Saturday, March 4th, the party landed down in New York City at Gramercy Theatre.

As the fans, both young and old, checked in from the freezing cold, they walked in to see opening support, Baby Baby. Coming together back in 2009, the Atlanta, Georgia based band comprised of Fontez Brookes (vocals/guitar), Grant Wallace (drums), Colin Boddy (aux percussion), and Hsiang-Ming Wen (bass) provided the perfect start with their brand of self-pattened Fun Rock. 

As the lights went down and the crowd continued to grow, Baby Baby invited everyone to begin dancing as they went into “Serge” and the chant along “Hang in There.” Going into other tracks such as “Teach You How to Dance” and Punk Rock tingling “Keep on Dancing,” the band certainly lived up to their name of Fun Rock.   

Sharing fun stories in between the music, during the second half of their set they pulled out all the stops as Wallace left his drum set several times to get closer to the crowd, even jamming on the cowbell. Going into “Turnip” and “Just Because You’re Here,” the party-like atmosphere continued with wild stage antics and rowdy guitars. Closing out with “Fire,” Save Ferris’s Alexander Mathias hopping out to lend his saxophone skills to the finale. A band that provokes a let loose and have a good time vibe, Baby Baby are as much a party band as B-52s or Andrew WK, but do it their own way. 

A hard act to follow, New York City’s own Rude Boy George came out next. Becoming well known in the area for their upbeat Ska revivals of classic New Wave tracks, Rude Boy George is made up of Megg Howe and Roger Apollon Jr. sharing vocals, Jackie Chansen on saxophone, Jesse Gosselin on guitar, Mark Wasserman on bass, Dave Heise on drums, and Pam Buckley on piano.

Ready to go, they opened with Berlin’s “The Metro” before going into Howard Jones’ “Things Can Only Get Better” and The Cure’s “Close to Me.” Rude Boy George offered a unique take on the ’80s classics. Possessing a stage presence that was infectious, it was impossible not to dance along as the energy level elevated with other songs like Blondie’s “Atomic” and the anthemic Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America.” Fans of Ska looking to get into a band with instantly recognizable cover renditions done to perfection, look no further Rude Boy George.

With two acts down, it was time for the headliners Save Ferris to take on the New York crowd for the first time in over fifteen years. A long time coming, Powell and her bandmates Gordon Bash (bass), Patrick Ferguson (guitar), Erik Hughes (trombone), Alex Mathias (saxophone), and Brandon Dickert (drums) did not keep the eager audience waiting long as they promptly kicked into old favorite “The World Is New.”

From there, it was on into other oldies but goodies, “Nobody But Me” and “Little Differences.” A rush of a beginning, taking a moment to catch her breath, Powell expressed gratitude to those who came out to see the band. Slightly under the weather, Powell showed no sense of such while singing, but poked fun of her own raspy speaking voice. 

Unshaken, Powell not once let her ailment hurt her performance, saving all her energy to unveil new tracks, including “Golden Silence,” “Anything,” and “Do I Even Like You?” Of course there was a good balance of all Save Ferris’ history for all to enjoy, but perhaps the most delightful aspect of the night was Powell’s engaging personality. Constantly joking around, the night took on a feeling of old friends getting together for the first time in too long a time. In addition, Powell gave the show a burlesque feel as she slowly removed her dress, but do not get too excited, there was another dress underneath, showcasing more of her playful stage manner.  

While the band leader shined bright all night, she was far from the only one to enjoy the spotlight as Bash stood tall during “Superspy” when switching out his electric bass for an upright bass. Going into what was thought to be the final song of the night, “I Know,” Save Ferris expressed more thanks to the audience before shuffling off the stage. Quickly returning, the encore offered one more modern day cut, “New Sound,” before wrapping it all up with their distinctive cover of Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen” to a sea of applauses.

Sharing a bond with the live crowd like few can, those three simple words “You Mean Everything” in the set closer perfectly summed up Powell’s view on each and every person who has ever picked up a Save Ferris album or purchased a ticket to a show. Wearing her heart on her sleeve all night, Powell revealing how grateful she was for love, for music, and for her fans.

The checkered past that kept Save Ferris out of sight so long has made the return all the more meaningful. Ending their performance in New York City with promise that they will be back again, Save Ferris prove there is light as long as their is hope. 


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