Boulder classic rock band Hindsight jams with "The Beatles"
by Dylan Otto Krider
April 30- May 6, 2009
On Nov. 22, 1963, there were two watershed events one that shocked
the world, and one that went largely unnoticed. The first was the
assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas. The second was the
release of the sophomore album of an obscure band from England known
as The Beatles. Yet, two months later, everyone of a certain age
group in America knew about the four young Brits with the moppy hair.
After that, it was unclear whether it was The Beatles who made
history or history that made The Beatles.
As the cartoonist Fred Hembeck put it, "Not to downplay the awful
tragedy that took place half a world away in Dallas that very same
day, but ever since I learned of the actual release date of With The
Beatles several years back, I've been intrigued by what some might
call the karmic balance of the two events. JFK's assassination was
arguably the single darkest cloud to hover over our nation in that
troubled and turbulent decade, and the first real rays of sunshine to
peek through that oppressive cloud were provided by much of the music
on this very recording."
By the time The Beatles landed in America to launch the British
Invasion in February 1964, the airport had already been named JFK,
and the youth of the nation needed new icons. Screaming fans greeted
them, and by the time their three-week tour made a stop at the Ed
Sullivan Show, 45 percent of the nation tuned in to watch.
To give you an idea of the speed with which the nation was evolving,
keep in mind that all of this took place within the span of two and a
half months. The assassination of JFK had made the youth aware that
something was missing, a void that The Beatles somehow filled, and by
1965, the shaggy hair that shocked 1950s sensibilities was starting
to be found on politicians in the halls of
Congress. By '67, it was the Summer of Love.
Ken Weiss and Arnie Rosenthal were there. Weiss saw The Beatles
perform at Shea Stadium in '65, and Rosenthal, whose uncle was the
road manager for their tour, went in '66. With the stage show When We
Were Fab, the two wanted to capture a part of what those concerts meant.
"We want a way for those people who had seen The Beatles to relive it
again, and [for] those who never got a chance to understand what the
fuss was all about," Weiss says.
This is not some cover band; the musicians are cast for not only
their musical and vocal ability, but to look and act like The Beatles.
Weiss says the original Beatles concerts were about more than the music.
"We couldn't hear them, not a note, but there was something unique
about this mass hysteria, not the kind of hysteria that we
experienced outside the stadium when it was over. [Fans] were running
outside in the streets tearing their clothes off. While The Beatles
were on stage, they were allowing [fans] to express themselves in
ways people never did."
Thus, the screaming an excuse to unleash some pent-up frustration,
emptiness, desire for change.
"The Beatles were a bellwether, people who had the cultural power to
change what people were thinking and doing socially or at least given
permission to think of behaving socially in a different way."
When We Were Fab is a recreation covering four periods of the band's
history: 1) the Sullivan Beatles; 2) the Rubber Soul period with the
turtlenecks, when the music became richer and more complex; 3) Sgt.
Peppers; and 4) the Abbey Road period.
When The Beatles arrived, they were in banker suits, singing
bubble-gum pop music about holding hands. Later, they changed their
tune and adopted more politically aware lyrics on songs like "I am
the Walrus" and "Yellow Submarine." The Beatles soon dumped their
businessmen attire for brightly colored jackets and acid trips.
Another problem is that The Beatles wrote a lot of their music in the
studio, without any consideration for how it would sound live.
"This is a trip through the history of the 1960s using The Beatles as
the vehicles, as the car, if you will, to drive through time," Weiss explains.
The world was changing culturally and politically, and The Beatles
managed to ride it, capture it, foster it.
Stewart Sallo, leader of the band Hindsight (and publisher of Boulder
Weekly), was in junior high around the time The Beatles reached their
peak of popularity, and he remembers the importance of The Beatles,
and their music, to his generation.
"The body of music was intricately connected to what was going on in
the times during the '60s, and it became a chicken-and-egg kind of
thing. You had to wonder if Beatles music was influencing the times,
or the times were influencing The Beatles, until pretty soon it
became seamless. The truth is both were happening."
Sallo says one of the reasons for forming Hindsight five years ago
was because people still want to hear that kind of music.
"It gave us hope, the same way we're experiencing a resurgence of
hope with the current administration," he says.
It also seems like the right time to recognize the importance of
music as a tool for political dissent. It wasn't an accident there
was such a concerted effort to crucify the Dixie Chicks during the
Bush administration. It sent a message to the music industry not to
get too nostalgic about the '60s protest songs and effectively
silenced some mainstream musicians during the Iraq war.
"There was Will.I.Am," Sallo points out, which is true.
His turning of an Obama speech into a piece of music became an
Internet sensation, and seemed to capture the campaign's message of "hope."
Knowing Sallo was a fan, a promoter suggested his band ought to come
out and jam with "The Beatles" during one of their rehearsals.
"It seemed like it was going to fall apart five or six times," Sallo
says about the rehearsal. "But it turned out to be pretty fun… almost
felt like I was jamming back in my college dorm room."
Especially when you're rocking out with people who understand what
made The Beatles so special.
On the Bill
When We Were Fab will play April 30May 31 at the New Denver Civic
Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Dr., Denver,