I WAS THERE . . . The Harlem Shakes @ Bowery Ballroom, 7/01/09

Go to college. Get a degree. Become a rock star. This is not your grandma’s formula to greatness, but it is the path through which indietastic band the Harlem Shakes graduated to popular appeal.

Founded upon a nucleus of three Yale graduates, The Harlem Shakes recruited two more astute musicians to round out their “American Pop” sound: a meld of the ‘Great American Songbook’ with noticeably modern textures. Based on the crowd’s deafening sing-along at the Bowery Ballroom on July 1st, one may assume with accuracy that the Shakes’ songbook must be on the reading list of America’s slightly over-educated yet rousingly upbeat generation of twentysomethings.

The lilting vocals of Lexy Benaim dripped manna into the lobes of a full house hell bent on jiving to orchestrated horns and peppy drum beats. Unlike other concerts, this crowd wasn’t too blitzed to notice the fervent bass line alone–they were tuned into Benaim’s lyrical musings, perhaps the byproduct of his past life as a Literature and Writing major.

Such smart content requires a hot rod to deliver it and the Shakes’ combination of Latin percussion, jazz, classic rock, and indie sugarpop, make for the right set of wheels. The Harlem Shakes drove the crowd into a frenzy with songs from their older album as well as their latest ear candy titled Technicolor Health.

Nicole Velasco

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