There aren't any surveys statistically showcasing St. Louis concertgoers' antipathy toward dancing. But even if lethargy was widespread in the Gateway City, JC Brooks says his band succeeded in shaking complacent people out of a stationary funk.
"We've been lucky here, I'll say, just because a lot of people say at the after shows that it's not easy to get you guys to dance," says Brooks in a telephone interview with RFT Music.
As the ringleader of the Chicago-based JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, Brooks fronts an outfit that fuses neo-soul, rock and roll and a little bit of punk rock into a vibrantly eclectic package. The band came through St. Louis often in recent months, including a December show at Off Broadway. The group is returning Saturday to the Lemp Avenue establishment, playing a set with Company of Thieves and Sleepy Kitty.
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound released Want More last October, which constitutes the group's debut on Bloodshot Records. Unsurprisingly, the song selection is diverse: "To Love Someone (That Don't Love You)" oozes with a sound that's reminiscent of old-school soul recordings, while "Sister Ray Charles" has just a hint of indie rock and, in Brooks' words, "a lot of attitude."
"Post-punk soul is what gets thrown around a lot," says Brooks, noting that songs have elements of punk, funk and soul. "There's a lot of stuff, but there's definitely the post-punk influence in a lot of the songs."
One song in particular on Want More provides the group with a definitive link to the St. Louis area, besides the fact that they regularly perform here. The band composed a rather unusual cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart." Instead of being a somber ballad, the group's version of the song is decidedly upbeat.
Brooks says the rendition of the Jeff Tweedy-composed tune came about during a sound check for an appearance on WGN. Although Brooks notes the song was something of a "goof" at first, he adds it's become something of a fixture in the band's live performances.
"People liked it from the very beginning, so it became part of the set. It became kind of a shoo-in for the album once we got permission," Brooks says. "Playing it live is still a lot of fun. ... It's kind of become like a set piece for us where it's a lot of fun to step through this song. It's almost like a warm-up for me, because it's like you know it so well that it's like in muscle memory."
For first-timers, there is no official dress code to a JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound concert. But Brooks has some simple advice for newcomers:
"I would say for the first-timer, if you don't have anybody to impress don't wear any make-up and leave the heels at home," Brooks says. "Be ready to dance."
Additionally, Brooks says that a video for "Sister Ray Charles" should be released after the band performs at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin.