The Beatles are a goliath in the music industry. Having released 13 studio albums and being the seminal band of the 1960’s their legend status is well earned. Covering any of their songs is seen as the musical equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. Yet Uncle Dads art collective took it upon themselves to not only cover an entire album, but also capture the essence of the Beatles. At first glance it seems like the collective has bit off more than it can chew, but in the end was pulled off masterfully.
Uncle Dad’s is a fairly new entity in the Chico art community, having been founded in 2013, but have already done a lot to foster and grow the arts. Having done similar performances for Michael Jackson, Prince, and Queen Uncle Dads had set a bar for themselves a bar that they aimed to surpass. Abbey Road is another performance in their series of paying homage to iconic performers of the past. But instead of paying homage and playing covers they want to also highlight the art community within Chico. It is not just musicians covering songs, but instead a melding of many different types of art. From dance, acrobatics, aerialists, costumers, visual artists, and play writes Uncle Dads aimed to highlight all of these as well as the music.
The performance played a majority of the tracks off of Abbey Road ,and other Beatles corner stones such as “Black Bird” and “Strawberry Fields”, but also featured a Alice in Wonderland-esque narrative. The story began with “The Dreamer” (Played by Courtney Osteen) waking up in a world that mirrored the art style of “Yellow Submarine” and began with the whole cast playing “Come Together”. Osteen was mesmerizing with her movements and embodied the emotions of not only the song but also the narrative. Osteen was a key piece to the performance and without her the performance would have just felt like a standard concert affair. The set was perfect. It captured the psychedelic aesthetic that the 60’s were known for, but still had a vividness that resembled a dream. The costuming varied in style as well. Rooted in some realism with the hippie fashion but also in the psychedelic with those of the dancers dressed as monsters, the Sun King, and other fantasy archetypes. It had a simplistic style, but works in the grander scheme of things due to the nature of the dream. The visual effects also extremely enhanced the entire performance. From psychedelic light shows, a universal trip, and an under sea garden the visuals made the performance feel alive.
The music and the acrobats were the massive highlights of the performance. Madeline Mathews had a fantastic performance of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” the modernization of “Getting Better” by Mad Tantra, and the R&B/Soul rendition of “Hey Jude” by KLEZ the spectrum was wide. The first act as a whole was narrative driven. With the songs serving as a narrative device for Yang to tell a story through her movements, but the second act was driven more by the music. Kyle Williams performed a fantastic and sweet rendition of “Strawberry Fields” that floored the crowd. Pat Hull was the standout. His cover of “Blackbird” was phenomenal, by keeping to the original song, but allowing his voice to change the song for him. By the end of the performance the entire crowd was floored and would have asked for an encore if they could. By the end of the performance the crowd was won over and Uncle Dads had given a fantastic performance. The crowd gave the cast a standing ovation and the excitement of the crowd carried over into the night.
Uncle Dads is an extremely positive force for the Chico art community. Not only have they proved they have the capacity to put on extravagant performances such as Abbey Road but they can also put on more intimate performances. There Listen Up series at the Naked Lounge helps local artist hone their live performance skills in front of a crowd in a no cell phone environment. Uncle Dads will most likely continue to be a mainstay in Chico and I hope it is. Chico needs an art collective like Uncle Dads that can help foster young talent and put on giant performance because local artists need that support. Look out for their future projects and any artist associated with them.
By: Carlos Rodriguez