A few weeks ago, I was walking around downtown Springfield when I saw a poster that really caught my attention. On it was what appeared to be tatted up version of Snow White and the words “Disney Cover Show” written across it in big, Disney font letter. Closer to the top of the poster, it was revealed that these weren’t to be just any covers — symphonic, DisneyMania-style pop, or YouTube medleys — but were to be performed by a local ska/punk band. If there’s a three-word phrase that describes me (or at least “high school” me) better than “punk rock Disney” I don’t know what it is. Obviously, I had to attend.
Of course, getting 30-year-old and lazy me out of the apartment for a show that starts at 9 p.m. wasn’t exactly easy, but I made it happen and headed on up to Lindberg’s. While I don’t frequent bars much, I had actually been to Lindberg’s once before as it was the venue for a series of events hosted by some friends of mine where, once a month, local artists would perform original songs inspired by that month’s book selection. The relatively small bar with its cramped tables worked well enough for those mellow show but I wondered how the tavern (in fact, Springfield’s oldest tavern according to the bar’s signage) could accommodate a slightly more raucous performance.
The answer: they didn’t change anything — or, if they did, I didn’t notice. This made it very difficult to know where to stand and I had flashbacks to my days as an extra where, no matter what you do, you’re always in the way. I didn’t want to stand too awkwardly close to the people seated at tables, but still needed to keep a path for the servers to get through and allow other people to get to the bar. And, in true concert fashion, I always manage to end up behind the tallest person in the world. With all that aside, I was ready for the show to start.
Before the headliners for the night, Rob Bailey and the Springfield Famous, performed, a quartet of local artists with acoustic guitars hit the stage. This is where a good reporter would tell you their names but I’m afraid I failed in that category. However, I can tell you that this set included some songs you’d expect to hear (“Can You Feel the Love Tonight”; “Part of Your World”) as well as several you probably wouldn’t (“The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind”; “Love”; the Little Einsteins theme song). Although some of the performers didn’t seem as prepared as others, it was fun to see what each artist chose as they went around taking turns at the mic.
Then it was time for the punk rock show to begin. Now, I’ve heard my fair share of ska Disney covers having attended dozens of Suburban Legends shows in Disneyland so I was interested to see how what songs the Springfield Famous would select and how they might compare to the Legends (Famous… Legends… that could be slightly confusing, I realize). Incidentally, the first three songs they performed are ones that SL have covered but that didn’t take away from them at all. I should also note that Rob Bailey and the Springfield Famous may be the smallest ska band ever with only four members although they were joined by a female vocalist for this special show. Despite that lack of a what could be called a full horn section, the Famous sounded great.
One of the things I thought was really great about the Springfield Famous’ Disney selections were, at times, they would mash them up with other songs. For example, their version of “Kiss the Girl” interpolated elements from Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”. Later in the show, they also kicked off a cover of “Bare Necessities” with the riff from a Blink 182 song whose title is close enough to a swear that I don’t think I’m allowed to say it on this site. These clever additions reminded me of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes — a punk rock cover band that sometimes manage to sneak in other allusions and covers into their song.
However, I have to say my favorite song of the night was “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin. This is where one-man horn section Chris Vanderpool (I looked it up) really got a chance to shine (did I mention it was a crowded bar? Sorry for the poor cinematography):
Before calling it a night, the Springfield Famous performed some other Disney hits including “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” and “Oogie Boogie’s Song” since, as Bailey put it, no punk/ska Disney cover show would be complete without a song from Nightmare Before Christmas. Additionally, after making sure that the audience was aware of the Marvel’s connection to Disney, the band launched into a cover the Spider-Man theme as famously performed by The Ramones (although this Famous added a verse of Spider-Pig from The Simpsons Movie as well). And, of course, there was a performance of “Let it Go” although that title could really apply to the lyrics sheet during their rendition because… yeah. To be honest, the band might have been better off leaving on their original closing song:
Cramped quarters and forgotten Frozen lyrics aside, the show was an incredible success in my eyes. Not only was it something that both high school and 30-year-old me enjoyed but it also showed me once again that there actually is some cool stuff in Springfield, Missouri (even if it is no L.A.). So bravo to Rob Bailey and the Springfield Famous — hope to see ya real soon.