Vaud and the Villains Get Ready for the Big Time – REVIEW

by Tony Shea on August 31, 2013


Dan O’Day McClellan contributed to this article.

Friday August 30, 2013 Ford Amphitheatre – Los Angeles, CA

IMG_0891On a night that was as hot and humid as the swamplands of New Orleans, Vaud and the Villains torched the Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, launching themselves into the big leagues, or at least bigger leagues, for one gets the sense that they are reaching a point of critical mass and will soon burst into a conflagration that will leave nothing but scorched Earth – and I mean that in a good way.

IMG_0897The experience of Vaud and the Villains is part bordello burlesque, part funeral, part church service, part Voodoo ritual, part love song, and part murder balled; a rollicking, history lesson of sorts that somehow manages to wrap jazz, swing, country, soul, and gospel, up in a sexy, sweaty skin of pure theatricality that would be equally at home at an old time medicine show as it would be on Broadway.

IMG_0867Led by Andy Comeau, a.k.a. Vaud, and featuring a cast of twenty performers, the Vallains evidence a deeply nuanced musicianship that features an intricate interplay of numerous instruments: saxophone, trumpet, tuba, trombone, guitar, violin, harmonica, bass, piano, clarinet, drums, washboard, tap shoes, and maybe a few I missed, capped off with soaring vocals from half a dozen singers at a time.

IMG_0900The set list at the Ford featured “Mary Don’t You Weep,” “Dixie Chicken,” “St. James Infirmary,” and a dozen other standards (and not so standards) that they made their own, sending the sell-out crowd of 1200 folks to their feet and into the aisles like it was Mardi Gras in August – no small task in a town known for it’s “too cool to be impressed” audiences.

IMG_0872Rounding out the show’s razzle dazzle was a cadre of four burlesque dancers, who had all clearly done their morning sit-ups and who took the stage dressed alternately as can can girls, gypsies, and dapper dons, adding a bit of bawdiness to a show that was, in the 100 degree heat, already dripping wet. Still, Vaud and the Villains manages to be a family friendly affair, sprinkling in the lewd with the lively. And what a lively show indeed, as evidenced by the age range of attendees, spanning the gamut from 20-somethings to middle aged parents with babies on their shoulders, to grandparents still shaking a gray tail feather.

The combined effect of it all was that Vaud and the Villains created, and shared in, a kind of rare group joy. I expect that very soon Vaud and the Villains will be moving across the 101 freeway from the Ford to the 18,000 seat Hollywood Bowl.

Eyes on the Prize

To learn more about Vaud and the Villains, including upcoming shows and tour stops, click HERE.

To see clips from the Ford show goes HERE.

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Tony Shea ( Editor-in-Chief, New York)

Tony Shea is based in New York, having recently moved from Los Angeles after more than a decade on the sunny coast. His short films have won numerous awards and screened at major festivals around the world including Comic-Con. As a musician, he is the lead singer for Los Angeles rock n’ roll band Candygram For Mongo (C4M) who has been a featured artist on Clear Channel Radio’s Discover New Music Program and whose songs have been heard on Battlestar Gallactica (Syfy Channel) and Unhitched (Fox) among other shows and films.

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