Friends have been inviting me to Brooklyn Bowl for ages to go see different DJ sets, out to eat, and of course, to bowl. But, to be honest... I’ve never been there for any of those reasons.
There’s only a few times a year I am willing to make the trek to Brooklyn Bowl and that’s when Who’s Bad comes to town.
Founded and based out of North Carolina, Who's Bad is a Michael Jackson tribute act that travels all over the United States and overseas to perform Michael's music. They are the longest running Michael Jackson tribute band and the ONLY ONE to predate Michael's passing in 2009. From the choreography, to the ad libs, to the set-list- all the details of the show have been carefully crafted for the Michael Jackson fan in mind.
The first time I saw Who's Bad was in 2011. I had recently founded Legacy of Love, a Meetup for Michael Jackson fans in New York City a year prior and made a bunch of girlfriends that I felt very close to. At the time, Michael’s death was still something that weighed heavily on all of us. When it was announced that Who's Bad was playing B.B. Kings Blues Club on my birthday- I knew it was the perfect way to celebrate and the ladies were happy to join me. Now I sometimes prefer to attend concerts and Michael events alone but, I really appreciated the company and support back then.
Located in the heart of Times Square, B.B. Kings was a great place to see them for the first time. The venue not only had a great sound system and a large dance/standing room floor but, also boasted two LCD screens on either side of the stage. They played videos of Michael and other unique silhouetted imagery of themselves in the background. It was one of the best fan gatherings I can remember.
You may have read my first blog post about Who’s Bad, where I talked about how much I enjoyed the show. That was written almost 3 years ago and after seeing them again at Brooklyn Bowl, I knew it was time to write a follow-up.
Since the initial review, a few band members have changed (including one of the lead performers, fan favorite Taalib York. I will get back to that later,..) And although it's 7 years later and the shock of losing Michael has somewhat dissipated, Who’s Bad still played to a totally packed house.
Let me be completely transparent; I used to be THAT girl. The kind of fangirl who, like many in the fan community, didn't like tribute acts. I was quite outspoken about not wanting to see anyone else do Michael songs. Who's Bad changed that.
Who's Bad was the first tribute act I saw after Michaels death and though I’ve seen a handful of others since then, NO other experience (besides the Jacksons concerts) comes closer to seeing Michael Jackson live. Yep, I said it… and I have seen Michael Jackson live and the Jacksons live, six other times (including once with Michael in 2001). Keep reading to find out why...
5 Reasons Why Who's Bad is
THE BEST Michael Jackson Tribute Band around!
1. They're fans.
One of the things I know to be true, is that 99% of Michael Jackson impersonators and tribute acts are FANS. Why would anyone spend countless hours learning choreography, Michael's mannerisms, perfecting the lyrics, and even a developing time consuming stage makeup routine, if they weren't a fan?
Sometimes impersonators and tribute acts can give off vibes that make you question whether or not they’re still fans, whether or not they are simply on stage just going through the motions... things like that. I don’t really know how to explain it but, if the performers aren’t passionate about what they’re doing, tributes can come off as dry and mechanical. What I've found in Who's Bad, is that you can literally feel energy of a stage full of people who love Michael Jackson and his music. What other tribute show do you know of, where the guys in the band play instruments, do a little background singing, and even some dancing? They're having fun the entire show and the crowd really feeds off that.
2. They are respectful of Michael Jackson.
I have seen a lot of tribute acts over the past few years and some have been surprisingly kitschy. Others have been somewhat offensive. About 4 years ago, I went to see a tribute show and the lead performer made distasteful jokes in between songs. As a fan, I was hurt to see another fan make fun of Michael just to get laughs out of the audience... but, I guess it comes with the territory. It’s frustrating but, from a business standpoint, I understand it. Sometimes shows do need to be tailored to their respective audiences but, it's still not MY cup of tea. Who's Bad reminds the audience at every show, that they are celebrating the life and the music of Michael Jackson. And to me, that's the way it should be.
As Michael once said himself during his acceptance of the Grammy Legend Award in 1993, “It feels good to be thought of as a person, not as a personality.” I wouldn't be able to enjoy the show without knowing that the performers up there were representing and celebrating my hero with dignity and class.
3. They are super talented individuals.
Of course, the Who’s Bad features all the classic hits that folks want to hear but, they also play a couple of surprises, including “Love Never Felt So Good,” which was cool hearing accompanied by live instrumentation. The Michaels, James Time III & Joseph Bell both have outstanding voices and do a great job at performing the songs live. Michael was so much more than a dancer and an entertainer… his voice was also a key element of that overall "King of Pop" stage performance. Who’s Bad consistently features performers with vocal talent who are naturals on the stage.
4. The BAND is amazing.
The BAND! I cannot say enough great things about them. The musical direction is on point and I have to give great props to those guys. No other tribute show has got the live Michael/Jacksons sound down like they do. The live music is played with soul and exuberance. One of the main reasons why I feel so pumped after Who's Bad shows, is because of how authentically well they play Michael's music and interacting with the crowd.
5. They do lots of meets and greets and come down to take photos after the show!
One of the reasons I love this act is that I've gotten a chance to speak to several of the members. They are super down to Earth and gladly take photos with fans, when time and venue permits. (I actually haven't met Joseph, AKA "Jobell" yet but, I look forward to meeting him in the near future.)
After the show, I was anxious to meet the Michaels. I had the chance to meet the band’s newest front man, James. He exceeded my expectations both on stage and off. I was impressed with his sharp dance moves and a graceful stage presence reminiscent of Michael’s. But also, how kind he was to take multiple photos and chat with each person who wanted to.
Oh- and BONUS points because he gave me a shout out during the show to compliment me on my CTE shirt!
|Me in my CTE Shirt...|
|...and Michael in his! * via Dangerous Tour- MITM performance*|
Seeing Who’s Bad this was time around was a fun experience and I am glad I went on that Friday night. Oh and last but not least... I want to address something that has been a topic of conversation among the fan community lately... What Happened to Taalib York? Well, after attending the show, I am glad to say I finally found out the answer. That night they announced a special guest in the audience and it was Taalib!
|James, Taalib, and Jobell on January 6th at Brooklyn Bowl.|
They mentioned that Taalib left the group to explore other opportunities. Very happy for him! The cool part I have to mention, was that he joined current lead men on stage during a memorable performance of “Man in the Mirror”. So awesome to see, ending the evening on a high note!
If you’re interested in seeing when Who's Bad will be in your city, visit their official website whosbadmusic.com or follow them on facebook, instagram and twitter @WhosBADMusic. Tickets are VERY reasonably priced (I don't think I've paid more than $30 USD to see them General Admission in New York but, I would because they are worth sooo much more). They travel all over the world and are probably going to be playing at a town near you sometime soon.
Don’t forget to tag me too and let me know how you enjoyed the show :-)
Until Next Time, xoxo