A few hundred people turned out to the CD release show for the Big Bounce's debut album, Champagne and Apple Juice, at the Colony Theater this past Friday night. This was a celebrity-style affair, with a red carpet backdrop promoting a vodka company and the band. The cocktail party spilled out onto the bustling Lincoln Road promenade, and guests, clutching gift bags with vodka samples and a copy of the album, buzzed with the energy of anticipation.
The show sold out at a little after 9 p.m., and it wasn't long before the entire crowd had squeezed into the theater to watch the band's two core members, Brendan O' Hara and Michael Rodney (Komakozie). The were joined for the evening by a large team of backing musicians, augmenting the Big Bounce's eclectic sound with piano, saxophone, flute, melodica, and guitar. Together, they all brought to the big stage the songs that the duo has been singing in upscale gin joint-style lounges.
That stage also housed the VIP section, where the band's friends and insiders sat drinking cocktails throughout the show. You can take The Big Bounce out of the bar, but you can't separate their music from alcohol, it seems.
Host Josh Wagner introduced the band and hyped the crowd before O'Hara, Komakozie, and company finally appeared. "You all got cocktails in you?" O'Hara asked the packed house when he entered the room. "You all look incredible." Komakozie stood near him, eyes obscured by the rim of his fedora, with his microphone in hand. They looked at ease on the big stage and eager to begin.
The brass section launched into the album's lead feel-good track "Listen to the Rhythm," leading to a huge cheer from the crowd. Next, they played the infectiously catchy title song from the album, "Champagne and Apple Juice." This brought several members of the audience to their feet, shifting the gear of the evening from passive to participatory. The crowd wasn't there just to watch a show; they were there to party.
As the evening wore on, members of the crowd started making their way to dance in the space in front of the stage. After the band had played a few songs, Wagner walked across the stage to hand O' Hara a drink. "Josh, you wouldn't happen to have another?" Komakozie asked, and he was quickly obliged.
Other highlights from the set included "Hole in the Wall," a fast-paced piano song about the ideal drinking establishment. Then there was "Whose Side?," a soulful ballad about evangelists more concerned with saving souls than helping people, and, of course, the song that always gets the biggest reaction, "Take Your Time."
"Take Your Time," with its sexually suggestive lyrics like "arch your back" and "use your tongue," might be too risqué for some -- the audience even yells "motherfucker" at one point in the chorus. But the Big Bounce's audience sure seems to like it, and the song drew even more people down to the dance party at the front of the stage.
"Vacation" was another high-energy song that kept them on their feet, especially when Adam Patterson, lead singer of Stokeswood, joined O'Hara on vocals. The vibe in the room became positively frenetic when a young blonde girl appeared onstage to tap along to a song called "Sophia." Convinced that it was fair to conclude that the Big Bounce had, quite literally, brought down the entire house to the front of the stage, we squeezed through the all-out dance party and exited the theater.
Personal Bias: I think that the group's upbeat songs are fun, but it's the sober track "Whose Side?" that resonates most with me.
Random Detail: The Big Bounce is one of the hardest-working bands in South Florida. They've played over 500 shows in various cities since they've been together.
By The Way: You can catch The Big Bounce every week at The Florida Room at The Delano Hotel.
-- Courtney Hambright