pOUT, A band expected to bring Cleveland Rock, Detroit Funk, and Puerto Rican Thump to the Wade Oval Wednesday (WOW) stage, failed to impress this past week with countless covers and only a couple of original songs.
When I read “Puerto Rican Thump” as part of pOUT’s description on the lineup, I was expecting a percussion-heavy, high-energy band that would deliver something exotic and fresh. We arrived at the muddy Wade Oval field after passing a storm on the way into Cleveland, found a relatively dry area to sit, and pOUT entered the stage with a cover of “Rumor Has It” by Adele.
I had heard it before. Adele’s soulful voice has become a staple for covers far and wide, and pOUT’S version was no different from its predecessors.
Afterwards, they played another equally strict cover of “I Love Rock and Roll”, followed with a cover of “Animals” by Neon Trees.
This band supplied plenty of rock, but no funk, and certainly no thump.
There was hardly a break between any of the songs; pOUT rushed into each next one, disconnecting the audience with a lack of both communication and familiarity. Their entire setlist felt like it was on fast-forward, on a rush to get to intermission. The few times they did find time to say something to the audience felt awkward.
A single shoutout of “C’mon Cleveland!” would have been enough to get everyone cheering, but pOUT was shy.
Soon pOUT offered some imagination when they mashed Jessie J’s “Price Tag” with Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” Though they were still playing covers, they were at least doing so in an original way.
Immediately following, pOUT played their first original song of the night called “Moving On.” This funky, fun song brought more of what I had been hoping for. Singer Michelle Romary showed off her dark but upbeat vocals while guitarist Brent Hamker strummed out fun embellishments to the steady bass rhythm.
This, not a typical Adele cover, should have been the opening song for pOUT.
Though the band hit a very high point with its original single, it went back to covers, including two Lady Gaga songs, Fun.’s “We Are Young,” and “What’s Up,” the one hit wonder by 4 Non Blondes that has become greater known for the YouTube He-Man version titled “HEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA.”
There was a good variation in the covers themselves, but by the time intermission hit, pOUT had only performed one original song. I was tired of the repetitiveness of the covers.
Not so surprisingly, intermission brought in the greatest amount of dancers when a Zumba instructor taught dance moves to the great audience gathered in front of her. When pOUT came back, most of the dancers left the pit area and returned to their seats.
Their opening song for the second half was “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand, another cover that I could hear on the radio. The band members had iPads attached to stands, and I realized that they were probably reading music off of the screens, looking up chords to the covers that they were playing.
I had enough of the top-hit repetition, and left the concert shortly after they wrapped up the Franz Ferdinand hit.
pOUT was not a bad band. They were a very good cover band, in fact; they played everything incredibly well. However, they did not add anything particularly special to the songs, and when it came to getting the audience involved, they felt just plain awkward. Usually at WOW, the bands are very comfortable around the audience, but with pOUT it looked like it was one of the first times they had played at such a big venue.
Admittedly, their original song was very nice. Funk is something they had talent with, but it was one of the least-heard portions of their show. Hopefully the band can find a better balance between covers and their original music at future concerts.