Monday, July 14, 2014

80s & 90s Rock Cover Band, "Lavender Steel" Created an Infectious, Nostalgic Dance Party at Shillelagh Tavern.

by Heather K. with contributions from Marissa Strong

80s & 90s Rock Cover Band "Lavender Steel" Performing at Shillelagh Tavern
Photo by Marissa Strong Used With Permission
When my friend invited me to see her personal trainer's new 80s & 90s rock cover band, "Lavender Steel" at Shillelagh Tavern in Astoria last Thursday, I didn't know what to expect. As we first entered the intimate bar and music venue, I was so struck by the loud sound of the band warming up that I almost walked out. I'm so glad I didn't. Within minutes of the start of Lavender Steel's set, rather than fighting the urge to leave, I was fighting the urge to be the first one to spontaneously break out into dance. Several songs in, as singer Barbara Serbes made her way into the audience with her microphone, I knew I could no longer remain seated and it was time to join the dance party that had already begun on the floor.

Lavender Steel touted their "girl power," as the band was fronted by two somewhat alter-egoed female vocalists whose styles and voices complemented each other well. Serbes (also the creator and founder of Female Fitness Force), who went by "B," sported an all-black glam rocker chick getup that accentuated her features, while her counterpart, Collette Mclafferty wore a glimmering lavender dress and had her hair slightly pulled back into a bandana, portraying a hippie/gypsy vibe. The smiles never left their faces, and the energy in the room continued to rise as they belted out rock ballads including Madonna's "Burnin' Up," Pat Benetar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," George Michael's "Faith," Modern English's "Stop the World and Melt With Me," and a random sampling of renditions of other rock, pop, and new wave blockbusters from the 80s & 90s.    

"B" has also been known to have yet another alter ago, that of lead female vocalist, "Myndi Lauper," in 80s cover band, "Weird Science". Starting off with similar roots in a small neighborhood setting, Weird Science gained acclaim and now tours the tri-state area and beyond, often playing in large, outdoor venues. With those roots, it's no wonder that Lavender Steel's performance Thursday night (only their second ever since performing as a band in public) was more like an all out exciting rock concert than the quiet, intimate bar show I had expected. Complete with a range of vocal harmonies and fast-fingered guitar solos, it was like going to see Broadway's "Rock of Ages," but cheaper, more fun, and a whole lot more interactive. Lavender Steel's energy was truly infectious.

Lavender Steel closed out their intended one hour set with Journey's, "Don't Stop Believing," encouraging everyone to stand up and sway their arms. The entire audience obliged, and as the song ended, we were already begging for an encore, chanting "One More Song!" in unison. The band had earlier taken several requests, so I yelled out a suggestion, another Journey favorite, "Separate Ways". The band members smiled, but fittingly went into Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance With Somebody," as we all laughed and danced. The band then began to clean up and say their goodbyes... until... a few minutes later... I was chatting with Collette, who noted how much she loved singing "Separate Ways". With a microphone still in her hand, she starting mouthing some of the song lyrics jokingly. Without warning, a random audience member then jumped up and starting fiddling on the band's keyboard. After a few notes, the room began to realize that he was playing the introduction to "Separate Ways," and suddenly Lavender Steel was compelled to re-take the stage by this "keyboard bomber". This awesomeness continued for several more songs before finally ending for good, to the dismay of the audience who still wanted more from Lavender Steel.

As the show closed out for real, the owner of Shillelagh Tavern, "Astoria's Best Live Music Venue," informed us that he would be immediately re-booking the band for a Friday or Saturday night slot. Although Lavender Steel is a newly formed band, they've already appeared on a college radio station, Long Island University's 88.1, and I expect to see them booking many more varied venues soon. Whether you're nostalgic for your favorite 80s or 90s tunes, or you're just looking to have a fun night out, you should look no further than Lavender Steel's next show. Follow them on facebook and twitter for updates. The Shillelagh Tavern can also be found on facebook and twitter.

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