The Dan Band prove real men sing “chick songs”

A review of The Dan Band at the Roxy on November 29, 2007

, Staff

On Thursday night at the Roxy, Dan Finnerty told the city of Boston how he really felt. “I love fucking Boston,” the Emerson College graduate proclaimed. “Fucking Boston, you make my zipper come undone.”&

The irony was that while he was announcing Beantown’s effect on the status of his decidedly male genitals, Finnerty was belting out the considerably feminine-minded lyrics to Salt-n-Pepa’s “Whatta Man.” The hilarity behind The Dan Band is overtly a gimmick – a bunch of dudes performing songs that are being drunkenly sung by a middle-aged woman at a karaoke bar somewhere in America at that exact moment.&

The genesis of the band occurred in a Los Angeles bar when a socially lubricated Finnerty decided it would be a good idea to sing Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” at karaoke night. A few performances, some backup singer/dancers and a supporting band later, The Dan Band became an L.A. institution, creating a fan base with their absurd adherence to “chick songs” like “I Will Survive” and “Lady Marmalade.”& After hilarious stints as the wedding singer who injects expletives into “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in Old School and the bar mitzvah entertainment in Starsky and Hutch, The Dan Band went national and have been serving up their spin on beloved women’s anthems ever since.&

As the lights dimmed and the considerable crowd catcalled for Finnerty and backup duo Gene Reed and John Kozeluh, projection screens at either sides of the Roxy stage showed a low-budget intro movie featuring the trio doing their respective day-to-day duties and suddenly receiving pages on their straight-from-1997-hitched-to-the-side-of-my-belt beepers.&

After changing into their respective performance attire a la Clark Kent into Superman – that being blazers and ties for Reed and Kozeluh and a frat boy meets mechanic ensemble for Finnerty – the band stormed the stage with a segue straight into ABBA’s disco hit “Mama Mia.” An early precedent was set for an excess of hand gestures, bizarre backup choreography from the Blues Brothers-esque Reed and Kozeluh, and the tendency to rework even the most sensitive ballads into fast-paced, expletive-laden party songs.&

The majority of the show involved intricate medleys of songs like Salt-n-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” and “Shoop,” during which the usually silent backup duo came forth to rap classically subtle lyrics like “You so crazy…I think I wanna have your baby.” The Dan Band also mixed old favorites and contemporary pop songs, including Anita Ward’s seventies anthem “Ring My Bell” alongside Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle,” during which all three members indulged in an intricate hula hoop dance solo and several forays into unironic ribbon dancing. The Dan Band is more than a concert; it is a hilarious sensory experience that includes everything from laser light shows to those gaudy inflatable snow globes that pepper the front lawns of suburbs.&

Finnerty frequently exercised his comedic chops, calling out members of the audience between every song for being drunk, particularly attractive, or both. At one point he even acknowledged the crewmember working the spotlight, calling out “Hey Mr. Spotlight Man, I’ve never met you, but I love you.” His ties to Emerson and the Boston area were apparent as well during his mid-song conversation with a concertgoer named Angela, appropriately from Arlington. “From Arlington? Did you just say the R in Arlington? Does your family hate that you say the R in Arlington? Isn’t it supposed to be Ahlington? They should probably disown you.”&

After punctuating a frenetic version of Shakira’s “Whenever Wherever” with the quip “that’s a song my grandma used to sing to me,” the band launched into several of their Christmas originals from their recent release A Dan Band Christmas: Ho, including “Ho Ho Ho,” “I Wanna Rock U Hard This Chrismas,” and “Get Drunk and Make Out This Christmas,” during which Finnerty invited a drunken couple on the stage to make out next to the inflatable Santa and fake Christmas tree.&

After a medley that included the Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha,” the Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps” and Kelis’ “Milkshake,” The Dan Band unleashed fan-favorite “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” followed by “What a Feeling”. A rendition of Alanis Morrisette’s feminist anthem of rage “You Oughta Know” closed out the set with the obligatory “Yankees suck” remark and a final allusion informing the audience on the status of Finnerty’s genitals.

The atmosphere of the show was definitely late night at a frat party, but instead of an obliterated brother leering at you over a cup of grain alcohol, it was the audience that was ogling the hilariously inappropriate spectacle onstage.

It’s easy to dismiss the Dan Band as a gimmick, a novelty act that had their fifteen seconds of fame in Old School and take the ironic, men-singing-chick-songs shtick past the point of no return. In the end, Finnerty can legitimately sing, and the combination of his voice, the talent of Reed and Kozeluh at the art of “interpretive dance,” and the whole outfit’s comedic chops ensure that any experience with the Dan Band will be a hilarious one. Just don’t ask them to sing anything that asserts their masculinity.

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