To watch the Elevations live is to see some bizarro-world version of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Except instead of bringing historic legends like Napoleon and Socrates into the now, the Elevations have plucked out the very best in a long line of faceless Motown performers to show tight-assed indie-rockers how it’s done.
The band’s not-so-secret weapon here is dual-vocalists Erika Herron and Sean Ike. Herron belts out soulful responses while maintaining a stoic cool-sexy stance. And we can imagine every bead of sweat running down Ike’s face equaling one tear for every mistreated and disrespected Motown musician, those who have set the foundation for this band’s shimmy-shake. Behind them stands what could be the National Guard of funk, soul and R&B — a nine piece orchestra (brass, bass, percussion and guitar) that nods to Motown, but adds an edge that can only come from vets of the Ann Arbor punk and experimental-rock scene.
Call them the Punk Brothers, if you wish. See, the Elevations have coughed up a nine-song romp that could drunkenly be dubbed Hitsville USA; “1st Class Love,” “What Can I Do” and “Crawl Walk & Run” not only do their best to pay homage to an era, but also, amazingly, manage to transcend anything retro. The hooks blast with the energy of a beer-splashed sock hop in an Ypsi punk house. Herron and Ike each sound like they’re grabbing lines from the other’s mouth, and the band stomps with dynamic enthusiasm, altogether proving that you can take the band out of the party, but you can’t take the party out of the band.
Ryan Allen writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].