HomeFive OClock Shadow Back And Rocking

Amy Malkoff's picture

If Johnny Damon werent enough to compete with, the opener, award-winning songwriter Sean Altman, had just finished tearing up the stage with his brilliantly bitter three-minute pop ditties and high energy performance. Altman sings what most dare not say; in one-such gem called The Notion, he tells the object of his imagined affections:

The idea of you drove me wild.
The real you crashed and burned.
The concept of you shines.
But the flesh and blood is so unkind
Enough of you - I'd rather keep the notion

But when the five voices took over, all 200 eyes and ears turned to the stage. Five Oclock Shadow is an all-vocal rock group from Boston which came together in 1991, and has existed in various configurations until they split in 2003.

Fortunately for us, the split was shortlived. Band members Oren Malka, Dan Lennon, Caleb Whelden, David Stack Stackhouse, and Paul Pampinella tore it up singing both original songs and covers. Their selections ranged from raucous rock and roll, like award-winning new millennium rock band Lits My Own Worst Enemy, to jazz standard The Way You Look Tonight (originally written in 1936 by Tin Pan Ally greats Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern), to the seventies rock band Doobie Brothers tune called "Long Train Runnin'"

Ryles was transformed into a cavern of vocal harmonies that twisted, turned, stretched, hammered, drummed, rat-a-tat-tatted, came together in harmony, then, turned on a dime into sharply syncopated and contrasting musical lines. The group wove both vocal and visual tapestry, while the singers mirrored the music by weaving in and out of each other on stage.

All five vocalists are so talented, I had to lean over to the woman at the next table a stranger and ask, How does any human do that? But the icing on the night was that these talented and serious musicians, clearly, dont take themselves too seriously. At one point, they covered the song Tainted Love, by the 80s rock band Soft Cell, while directing the audience participation: one third of us sang high pitched dant, dants while jabbing a finger at the ceiling, another third sang the doot, doots, with accompanying arms bending and straightening up past ears and the remaining sang the low pitched, OOOOO while waving arms from right to left. Band member Pampinella looked out and said, This looks ridiculous. And it did, but no one cared.

The marriage of musical talent with just the right amount of self-deprecation and humor transformed the show into a party. As talented as these five men are, the most appealing thing was their humility and humor. Their performance dress - jeans and t-shirts - just made sense. At one point Pampinella gestured to his mate and said, Were rock stars. I mean, just look at us.

Sometimes those with inhuman talents also possess the courage to step on-stage with humanity intact and simply have fun.

Check the photo galleries for Joel Foner's photos of this event