Postmodern Jukebox takes audience back in time with vintage music

The show was done with a live band featuring drums, an upright bass, a piano and alternating brass and wind instruments. (Congyang An/The Daily Campus)

By blending jazz and contemporary pop hits, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ) came to Jorgensen on Friday night to sweep the audience away with a diverse cast of talent and timeless style.

A musical collective known for their vintage covers of pop hits, PMJ have garnered over a billion views on Youtube and toured on six different continents. The group’s visuals and overall aesthetic are reminiscent of the Roaring 20s, when jazz music was at its height. They’ve covered hits by Lady Gaga, The White Stripes, Radiohead and countless other artists.

The show was done with a live band featuring drums, an upright bass, a piano and alternating brass and wind instruments. When the band took to the stage, they played the opening theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” to usher in the emcee for the night, Casey Abrams, a popular guest vocalist on PMJ’s Youtube channel.

Abrams introduced himself and the members of the band, each playing a quick solo. Following this, the first male vocalist of the night and a tap dancer took to the stage and wowed the audience with a jazz cover of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

Once the vocalist left the stage, Abrams strolled back on before giving a brief background of PMJ and its history. Abrams’ charismatic and extroverted personality had the audience laughing and adoring him.

“We take that pop and give it a bit of barbershop,” Abrams said about PMJ’s covers.

The next two songs of the show were by two female vocalists, one singing Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl.” Abrams pretended it was the end of the show until one of the band members coerced him into singing a song himself.

At this point, he started playing the upright bass and transitioned into Toto’s “Africa.” Once Abrams began singing, he passed the bass off to the musician and began one of the most energetic performances of the evening. He walked off the stage and began singing amongst members of the crowd, walking around the entire auditorium before hopping back onto the stage to finish the song.

The show continued to be just as upbeat with its performances. This included a tap dancing solo to the Harry Potter theme, a cover of Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” and a crazy clarinet solo here and there. The performers were having just as much fun on stage as the audience was enjoying the show off stage. During a cover of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” Abrams walked back onto the stage playing the melodica and dancing before intermission.

The first song sung following the intermission was a barbershop quartet rendition of “Umbrella” by Rihanna. Abrams went as far as going into the audience to hug members who rose their hands when he asked if anyone had bought merchandise during intermission.

Other notable performances during the rest of the show were covers of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” another impressive tap dancing solo and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”

While the audience seemed to love every song, the end of the show amassed a roar of applause as Abrams and two female vocalists began to sing “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne. It was a fitting but bittersweet ending to a delightful night full of pop classics and amazing display of live musical talent.

Thankfully, the audience’s overwhelming applause brought PMJ back for an encore. Abrams and the band gathered back on stage as the lights dimmed and a sole spotlight fell on Abrams. He sang a heartfelt-yet-playful cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” After the applause died down, the rest of the vocalists joined Abrams on stage as a colorful array of lights and dancers accompanied their performance of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights.”

The show was definitely a night filled with high energy performances and fun for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Regardless of whether the audience knew of PMJ from their Youtube channel or had little to no exposure to their work, watching them perform live was an extraordinary experience.


Brandon Barzola is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brandon.barzola@uconn.edu.