STRAIGHT NO CHASER "I'll Have Another...20th Anniversary Tour."

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STRAIGHT NO CHASER played the Fabulous Fox Theatre on Nov. 6, 2016.

I’ve seen STRAIGHT NO CHASER so many times now I’ve lost count—it’s either been five or six after their last performance at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis on Sunday, November 6, 2016. That show was a bit unusual in that they historically have played here much closer to the holiday and that the show started mid-afternoon. Of course, watching STRAIGHT NO CHASER is a joy any day, anytime.

A cappella is an incredibly intricate and exciting form of music. I think about bands I liked growing up, such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon and Garfunkel, The Eagles—all known for their beautiful harmonies, but all of them backed by a catchy guitar lick at the very least. STRAIGHT NO CHASER does it with only their voices, from singing to beatbox-style percushion. For my money, they’re the top of the genre.  Charlie Mechling, Mike Luginbill, Randy Stine, David Roberts, Walter Chase, Don Nottingham, Steve Morgan, Seggie Isho, Tyler Trapp and the one and only Jerome Collins have set the bar very high.

Maybe that’s why the November 6 show felt a little…odd…to me. Don’t misunderstand—the show was absolutely fine from a technical standpoint. Everyone sounded fantastic, from Don’s fun rendition of Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere,” to the bass section boys giving the tenors a good-natured jab with their take on the Meghan Trainor hit “All About That Bass” and Jerome and Mike being their usual fantastic selves, lending their gorgeous tenor voices to a variety of great tunes. And yet I couldn’t help but feel as if the show was just a wee bit perfunctory. There didn’t seem to be quite so much of the witty banter between songs, though there was some. Jerome usually bounds and slinks around the stage, letting the group’s soulful sound carry him wherever it wants him. He seemed somewhat stiff compared to past shows, so I wondered if he had tweaked something after doing a split during the “Thriller/Uptown Funk” mash up. They’re touring in support of their wonderful new Christmas album, and of course they did their trademark “12 Days of Christmas” for their encore, but I couldn’t help noticing the absence of the “Dreidel” segue during the song. Did Walter convert, or did they have to get moving to the next town on the tour so fast that they had to cut a couple of corners? Or maybe I just wasn’t really ready for Christmas music yet.  

Regardless of my own perception of something being slightly off-kilter, STRAIGHT NO CHASER brings the fun every time. A cappella is probably one of the oldest forms of music on earth, and it’s experiencing a renaissance in today’s world, stripping away the techno-mechanical production for the truest expression of the art. In my less-than-humble opinion, nobody is better at it right now than STRAIGHT NO CHASER. I can practically guarantee that there’s not a more fan accessible band—the felllas routinely meet the fans for a picture and an autograph after every show and encourage the audience to take pictures and video.  Catch the pride of Indiana University on their “I’ll Have Another…20th Anniversary Tour.” For more information, please visit their website at SNCMusic.com, and visit FabulousFox.com for more tremendous shows coming to my town's venerated venue.

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0