by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Among the discussion topics outside of The Waiting Room Friday night where R.E.M.odeled and Fear of Ghosts performed: What’s the difference between a tribute band and a cover band?
According to our old friend Wikipedia, “The main way in which a tribute band differs from a cover band that simply plays songs by other artists, is that it strives to capture every nuance of the imitated artist’s actions and appearance for a perfect imitation.” That sums it up for me as well. To me, a tribute band tries to personify the band whose music they’re playing. A cover band merely plays the bands’ songs.
The two bands that played Friday night meet in the gray area between those definitions. There was no attempt to “impersonate” the bands as much as simply relish in their respective catalogs. So when R.E.M.odeled’s Jeff Bell, playing the role of Michael Stipe, came out with an acoustic guitar, the initial reaction was “Hmm. I don’t remember Michael Stipe playing a guitar.” That’s because he didn’t. Does it matter? I guess it would to the hardcore fan that expected “tribute” treatment, but to the rest of us, not really.
What did matter was that Bell sung like Stipe, which he did very well. As a whole, the band did a good job playing tunes off R.E.M.’s Murmur and Chronic Town albums. It was fun. As was Fear of Ghosts, who were playing songs by The Cure. Braden Rapp did a respectable Robert Smith impersonation, right down to his black fright wig. And the crowd of between 100 and 200 loved it. And that’s all that matters. I could quibble at great lengths about both performances, but what would be the point? In the end, it was a fun night of covers by two bands with great respect for the bands that they were honoring.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.