Material: Power-pop mixed with a heavy ‘60s-centric rock sensibility is the order of the day for the Alternatives, an accomplished Motor City sextet. What is first impressive is their depth of coverage and attention to detail. The Beatles favorites, like “Day Tripper” and “Help,” Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” and the Who’s “My Generation,” liberally display the band’s diversity. But the emphasis on execution and meticulous and focused arrangements truly sets this group apart from the pack.
Musicianship: Akin to a great sports team, there are no stars, per se, in the Alternatives. Every player is significant and contributes equally to the whole, whether it’s the intricate interplay between the guitar front line, the seamless wall of vocal harmonies or the lock-step workmanlike relationship between the drums and bass. These elements meld together to form a cohesive unit that can take liberties with improvisation, while never losing a danceable groove.
Performance: This show was a series of highlights that heated things up on this frigid Saturday night. Classic rockers like “Little Red Book” got an extended remix, with animated solos from Sheldon Kay and Marcus Allen and backing tambourine hijinx from fill-in Derrick Allen and Mike Scarvelis. There were also some cool rockabilly-type jams that broke down the latter part of Carl Perkins’ “Slow Down” and standards like “Route 66.” The group harmonies were totally sublime and reflected warmth, clarity and sophistication.
Summary: Overall, one could not ask for a tighter band. The Alternatives keep the energy balanced and flowing and know how to entertain and engage a crowd. They also know how to keep down-time to a minimum and avoid too many technical or mechanical issues.
However, while their diversity and ability to blend more recognizable hits with deep cuts should be applauded, they may have a tendency to misread the audience at times. The Alternatives certainly aim to please and, in doing so, tend to reach out to a wide demographic. Perhaps, a concern might be that they don’t overextend that reach.
The Players: Marcus Allen, vocals, guitar; Sheldon Kay, guitar; Mike Scarvelis, vocals, guitar, tambourine; Chuck Deuel, bass; Scott Martin, drums.
Photo by Eric A. Harabadian
Venue: Uptown Grille
City: Detroit, MI
The Alternatives - "Look Through Any Window"
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