Blending modern popular tunes with complex harmonies, brilliant beat-box rhythms and superb singing with more traditional songs, Face Vocal Band take their audience on a musical journey and it’s fantastic fun.
Walking around Edinburgh during the Fringe you see a lot of things you may not see anywhere else. Everything from amazing circus acts to inspiring theater performances and confounding close-up magic acts. A recent arrival to the city caught my attention performing outside their venue to a small but enthralled group of onlookers. Unamplified and unencumbered, Face were holding court and proved themselves true kings of the street. I decided I had to see what else they had to offer.
From the very beginning we knew we were in for a treat. There was an infectious energy in the air. Excited chatter buzzed around the space as we waited for our musical face-time. The flyer had promised us “high-octane vocal rock” and I, for one, couldn’t wait to experience first-hand the multi award-winning group in their international debut performance. Their heritage is impressive – opening shows for Robin Thicke, Rick Springfield, Bon Jovi, Culture Club, and even Manhattan Transfer. Their YouTube channel and social media pages have over a half a million views. Six guys from Boulder, Colorado (who average over a hundred shows a year in the US which is equally impressive) strode out on to the stage and there was an instant connection – smiling faces and twinkling eyes suggesting a mischievous love of what was about to happen. But even with all of this preamble we were not quite prepared for the vocal explosion that was about to take place.
If we thought we knew what to expect we were wrong. Throughout the show our preconceptions were expertly dismissed as tune after tune thrilled and entertained us, transporting us from rural American folk songs through country music, pop and rock culture, and back again. We found ourselves humming along to well-known tunes such as House of the Rising Sun, clapping to the upbeat numbers, and reveling in the lovely blend of these six voices. Later in the show we were treated to a very fun “drum off” which pitted two of the singers against each other in a beat-box competition unlike anything you’ll have seen before. Special mention should be made of band member Mark whose extraordinary solo beat-box singing montage was nothing less than breathtaking.
A particularly moving moment in the show was their homage to the Scottish people whose home they are sharing this week before heading off to other European shows when they performed their version of the traditional song ‘The Parting Glass’ and I longed to hear more. With such skill in the group it would have been particularly interesting to hear their take on more traditional part songs, such as Monteverdi or Dowland, or even other Celtic folk songs. Overall though this show is one not to miss. The complex musical arrangements mixed with tight choreography and soulful singing stands out above the crowd. These guys truly put the heart in heartland America. Catch them while you can!
Published August 25, 2015 at FringeReview.com by Luke Tudball