After several hours out in the hot sun, I had run out of soda, and was starting to get tired and grumpy, enough to start minding the annoying kids whose parents let them run around and pester nearby strangers. (There were some lovely children at the park, too, but it’s always the annoying few that make these public festivals more difficult for everyone.) The third band in the Fort Collins 4th of July line-up was Retro, a 1980’s tribute band, and I had originally intended to head home for a break before they started their set.
I rather enjoy watching sound-checks, though, and they had some issues with theirs- the keyboards were not working with the sound system, and as soon as they got the keyboards working, something else stopped working right. I always learn more about stage electronics by watching the set-ups that have snags, so I had to stay and watch a while longer. I waited just long enough to leave that I was there for the first song, and sitting up front in a nearly empty green I felt more awkward about leaving.
The first few songs were a bit shaky, with the drums a bit too loud, and the trio just getting into their stride. But once they got going, Retro turned out to be a very good cover band, even playing a man short.
The 4th of July show featured Adam Gosenca on guitar, Laura Gosenca on female vocals, and Knapp Pro on drums and male vocals. Their fourth member, Mike Brown, is a volunteer fire-fighter and was away for this show. Knapp doubled on drums and lead vocals for several songs, including ZZ Top’s “Sharp-Dressed Man” and a rendition of “Whip-It”, for which the trio donned red plastic hats and Laura brought out a pink-feather tassled whip for its debut performance. Laura took the vocal lead for quite a few songs, including Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll” and two ACDC songs.
In other words, if they were that good on the 4th, imagine how much more entertaining they would be when all 4 of them are on stage, with no technical delays and an audience that sat less than 40ft from the stage. (An issue several groups have wrestled with this week, and doubtless at other outdoor shows as well- if your style relies on audience participation and the audience is too far away and too spread out, it just gets painfully awkward unless the musicians give up and stop asking the audience to sing stuff or otherwise get involved.)
I loved Laura’s solution to this distant audience situation- for the last song, an ACDC cover (a woman singing ACDC? Very cool, and very well done), Laura pranced off the stage, and made her way over to one of the men sitting in the little cluster near me. She sang the last few notes of the song almost serenading the unsuspecting fellow (who called his wife almost immediately after the show to tell her all about it, btw), and finished off in the grass behind me, much closer to the rows of lawn chairs where much of the rest of the audience lurked.