Date: November 1, 2018
Opening Act: Neon Swing X-perience
All Photos Courtesy of Melissa Haslam
It was a swingin’ night in Pittsburgh when jump jivers Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and local swingsters the Neon Swing X-perience got together for some live tunes.
First off, I didn’t realize that there was still a swing scene in Pittsburgh after the zoot suit fad died out in the late 90s but Jergels was filled to capacity with the elderly swing crew as well as neo-swingsters…most decked out in there prohibition-era threads.
First up on the bill was the only opening act of the night the Neon Swing X-perience; a neo-swing/American troupe who hail from the town of Jeanette, PA…about 20 miles from Pittsburgh. They’ve been playing together since the late 90s and I’ve managed to catch them live on a few occasions in the past. As usual, they always put on quite a show. They mixed in some big band music as well as a couple of covers including a swing version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”…on the first day of November to boot…as well as a big band rendition of the Squirrel Nut Zippers tune “Hell”.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy hit the stage to a loud wave of applause and kicked it right into high gear. As soon as the first notes hit the air, the dance floor was packed with couples performing various forms of dance from the swing two-step to salsa.
Even though the swing revival hit its tilt in the late 90s, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has continued playing with all of the founding members of the band and has released 9 full-length albums. Their setlist consisted of a great selection from most of those albums such as “Simple Songs”, “The Jitters”, “Who’s That Creepin?”, “Mr. Pinstripe Suit” as well as their most well-known songs “Go Daddy-O” and “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)”. As they bounced from tune to tune, they had the crowd wound up and the band played off of that as each and every song brought more energy to the show.
With a packed venue full of two-stepping ladies and gents, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brought their A-game to Jergels on this night. There were almost as many horn players as a typical ska band would have and they each got their time to shine throughout the night while other band members had their own showcases. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s songs are written so that they provide everyone in the band a chance to step to the front of the stage and show the crowd what they got. There were plenty of horn solos, a kickass drum solo, guitar solos and even a few keyboard solos!
While I’m not a swing aficionado, I’ve enjoyed the music for most of my life thanks to my grandparents as well as the swing revival in the 90s led by bands like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, the Squirrel Nut Zippers and of course Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. It was great fun to see that there is still a scene in Pittsburgh outside of the PittStop Lindy Hop, a local yearly Pittsburgh swing festival. Watching the dancers was just as fun as watching the band and that made for a great show overall.
Neon Swing X-perience
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy