Live: Patrick Stump Gets Soulful At Joe's Pub
Patrick Stump, Om'Mas Keith
Sunday, April 10
Better than: Watching his YouTube medleys at home with your cat.
His band Fall Out Boy's on hiatus, so lead singer Patrick Stump has gone solo, releasing an EP (Truant Wave) that puts aside his band's punk leanings and adds funk and soul elements to its pop backbone. Stump took the stage at Joe's Pub on Sunday night in a tux, white moon boots and fingerless leather gloves; a quick glance at the alabaster-skinned singer might bring to mind Justin Timberlake comparisons, except Stump's stage antics were so impeccably choreographed and his voice so genuinely able that the crowd gleaned his vibe immediately.
Stump's rich, scale-hopping voice helped propel Fall Out Boy beyond the pop-punk realm and into Grammy-nom territory; his incredible range is an added treat in a genre that doesn't mandate exceptional vocal ability. But if with Fall Out Boy, Stump's voice is the icing on the cake, in his solo work, it's the main course. Last night, he was backed by an able band that included Taking Back Sunday bassist Matt Rubano and Casey Benjamin, who nimbly switched back and forth between his herd of keyboards. (A herd? A murder? An Eno?) Halfway through his set of muscular, R&B-heavy solo material, Stump cleared the stage and moved to the keyboard to play Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U," and it was then that the power of The Voice really came across. Watching him, one gets the sense of a savant who's fully cognizant of the exceptional nature of his talent, but determined to treat it as a thing to have fun with; vocal runs turn into jokes and jokes turn into a quick bit of beatboxing.
The encore kicked off with Stump's first single, "Spotlight," and continued with covers of Gym Class Heroes' "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America" and Kanye West's "All of the Lights." Taking on Kanye and doing a good job with it is no easy feat, especially for an artist the public usually recalls as fronting a gang of punks. But Stump's proved that he's a white boy with soul, and a good sense of humor to boot.
Opener Om'Mas Keith, also of the hip hop group Sa-Ra, opened the show with a quick, well-received set, fronting and playing keys for a five-piece band that incorporated flute. Though Keith's Quiet Storm soul was fronted by his candy-coated vocals and smooth banter, his bassist and guitar player looked straight off the set of Jackass. This was only highlighted by mock-soulful facial expressions made by the bassist; he would pretend to groove and then laugh, like someone dancing ironically to a song playing over a grocery store PA. Off-putting at first, as the set went on his antics became a charming part of the tableau of good musicianship and good humor that defined the night. Keith later brought up electro-soul artist Rozzi Daime, at one point ceding singing duties to the platinum-tressed belter and providing the beat with his vocals, giving those members of the audience who were only familiar with his cameo on Stump's "Cute Girls" a fuller glimpse of his range.
Critical bias: I know Pete Wentz's child's middle name and I sort of wish I didn't.
Overheard: "I want to start a tab for just me."
Random notebook dump: I couldn't help but think of a celebrity band playing the prom episode of a CW show, when they show up dressed to the nines and super-produced, then proceed to energetically cater to the small, amped-up crowd. Stump has performed at much bigger venues, but his buoyant spirit filled Joe's Pub well.