Jana Peri looked — and sounded — like she just stepped out of 1963 as she took the stage to sing “Be My Baby” with the F*BOMB crew at Otto’s Shrunken Head last Friday night. It was the perfect opening for a night devoted to the sounds of two very different movies which actually shared some common musical threads: “Dirty Dancing” and “Animal House.”
Anchored by a rocking band, various singers took the mic in a format that they’ve been relying on for years. Billed as “NYC’s longest running monthly rock and roll party,” the collective usually appear at their last Thursday of the month residency at Arlene’s Grocery but have been known to pop up all over the place, from Bowery Electric to the Gramercy Theatre.
Created by Morgan Liebman in 2006, the shows are now produced by Liebman with Mike SOS and Tommy Von Voigt.
“F*BOMB is a musical community that spans all over New York City,” explains Voigt. “There are about 50-60 performers to choose from and every show is different. We do tributes to everything from soft AM radio rock to Prince to Guns N’ Roses and The Misfits.”
Friday’s singers (and player) all brought their A game, including first-timers like Marie Suchan, who made her debut with the group and revealed a musical talent that even her friends didn’t know she had. Opening the “Animal House” set with the classic “Money (That’s What I Want),” Suchan looked right at home.
“It was really fun and empowering!” she said, adding that “the F*BOMB family helped me overcome my stage fright when they welcomed me with open arms at rehearsal and into their awesome world of musicianship and intentional pop culture antics,”
Suchan added that the evening had some personal significance as well: “As a kid growing up in the 80s, I spent many a sleepover with friends acting out the Jennifer Grey/Patrick Swayze dance moves. Personality-wise, though, I am definitely more Delta Tau Chi Animal House than Dirty Dancing.”
Highlights of the evening were numerous, including Emilie Bienne’s hip-shaking medley of “Do You Love Me” and “Stay,” Mordecai Zipkoff’s “Louie Louie,” Mike SOS getting everyone moving with “Shout” and Adrianne Kuss jumping into Wolf’s arms while Russ Anderson and Stephanie Marie sang the climactic “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”
It’s possible that the most enthusiastic person in the room is Voigt, who isn’t just in it for the chance to perform , but also the opportunity to make people happy.
“When I first saw the F*BOMB shows, I was blown away by the pure joy in the room,” he recalls. “One of the main reasons that we do it is how much it means to people to hear their favorite music live. You can tell when it really resonates with the audience.”
It resonates with Voigt on a personal level too as he first met his wife, Melissa Villain, when they both showed up for rehearsals for an F*BOMB Faith No More tribute and bonded over the fact that at different times they had both broken the same bone in the same foot in the same country: Italy.
“People think that we made it up, but it’s true !” insists Voigt (for the record, Tommy, we believe you).
At any rate, that’s how they ended up duetting on Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love is Strange” on Friday night. Another notable duet was served up by Paul Bertolino/Paula Bertolino, who sang both the male and female parts of “Hey Paula” while wearing a half male, half female outfit and switching sides as they sang (check it out on YouTube!.
Voigt particularly enjoyed when the audience sang along to the Kellerman’s anthem from ‘Dirty Dancing’, but he was pretty darn happy with the whole night.
“It was joyful mayhem and at times total chaos,” he opined. “And I loved it”.
F*BOMB is on Facebook at facebook.com/fbombnyc and on Instagram at @fbomb_nyc . There’s nothing booked for August, but they will be back at Arlene’s Grocery on Sept. 28 with a horn section for the “AM Gold” show. Also, on Sept. 7, you can catch them at Berlin paying tribute to The Misfits and Danzig.