Alexa Solis /Nevada Sagebrush
The audience stands for Vaud & the Villains’ rendition of “When the Saints go Marching In” at its UNR concert on Thursday, Oct. 9. The 19-member cabaret show specializes in all varieties of Americana music.
By Alexa Solis
The crowd was hushed as a lone actor in Dust Bowl-era garb walked upon the stage.
“I’ll start with the incredulous, the unbelievable,” said Vaud Overstreet, a character played by Andrew Comeau.
There was barely a breath in the room as he continued telling his tale about a traveling band of misfits. Suddenly the stage lit up, and a troupe of 19 villains were revealed to the audience.
Garishly dressed with attitudes to match, the Los Angeles based orchestra and cabaret show “Vaud & the Villains” launched into its three hour-long concert at the University of Nevada, Reno on Thursday evening.
It sold out at the Nightingale Concert Hall as part of the campus’ Performing Arts Series.
“We were hoping that the show would sell out and it did ⎯ yesterday!” said Christopher Money, assistant director of programming at the School of the Arts. “I’m always looking to bring groups to the university that are inventive and engaging. V& V’s vintage style and electrifying performance was a perfect fit for the [performing arts] series.”
“Vaud & the Villains” plays all variations of Americana music from New Orleans and folk tunes, to a cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” The performers’ immense stage presence and fiery performance was enough to bring the audience to their feet on multiple occasions throughout the night.
“That was one of the most fun shows that I’ve ever been a part of,” said Ariana Patmas, graduate assistant for the School of the Arts. “I’ve never seen [something like it] before.”
The audience was filled with people from all walks of life, from groups of elderly people to people dressed in steampunk attire,⎯there was a little bit of everything.
While the audience was peppered with the elderly, not one person was dozing off. In fact, the show’s atmosphere was anything but sleep inducing.
“We play a lot of seated places like this, and it’s always harder to get people up because they’re seated,” Comeau said. “This crowd was a little bit older, but I could tell that they were enjoying the music and that everyone was loving it. It seemed like great energy, and they wanted more at the end.”
Well into the second half of the show, the atmosphere continued to hold that live wire quality.
“I need a few bold people to get up and help lift that church,” Comeau cried to the audience.
What began with some timid claps, soon became something much more intense. Every person in the room was up: dancing, singing and clapping along to the animated gospel tunes.
“People ask me, ‘what’s the band like,’ I shrug and I say you got to hear it because I can’t describe it,” said David Silverman, the sousaphone player for the troupe.
Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future ⎯ that is the motto for everything that Vaud & the Villains does. While the show was permeated by pieces of gospel, founder Comeau mentioned that it does not have its base in faith.
“I say ‘God bless you’ at the end, but that’s just because what my dad used to tell us before we went to bed,” Comeau said. “It’s not so much about anything religious so much as just putting some good out there into the world.”
Busting from the seams with enthusiasm, “Vaud & the Villains” managed to entertain and involve the audience. For just a moment, Nightingale Concert Hall was transformed into a 1930s cabaret.
“It was just a blast, I mean I don’t like to pick favorites, but I remember seeing their picture and saying ‘I just can’t wait for this group to come here’,” Patmas said.
Alexa Solis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.