Postmodern Jukebox Plays To Its Biggest Audience Yet at Microsoft Theater

Last Friday, Postmodern Jukebox played to 4,000 fans in LA’s Microsoft Theater – our biggest crowd ever. It was an unforgettable night; we had a star studded lineup of PMJ talent in the cast, and having lots of friends- both old and new- in the audience made it feel like something of a homecoming.

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Hanging with the cast before our biggest show ever.

I came onstage about midway through to thank the fans for helping us get this far and to play a couple of songs with the band.  Seeing that Kanye West announced his presidential bid in the same venue at the VMAs, I also used this opportunity to channel Kanye for just a second.  I’ll always find a way to embarrass myself just a little.

It hasn’t been that long since I decided to make the leap from recording videos in my living room to putting together a live, touring stage show – in fact, it’s been less than two years.  Being on that stage Friday night made me think back to our early days of touring and appreciate the journey that much more.

I knew from very early on that Postmodern Jukebox was meant to be experienced live.  After all, all our performers came from live settings, so playing for a camera instead of a live audience was a little weird in the first place.  I also knew that a variety show format was the way that I wanted to present this universe.  It wasn’t a band; it wasn’t a Broadway-style musical.  Despite the vintage theme, it was actually a new type of entertainment that had never been done before.

The cast at our first sold out show at NYC's Best Buy Theater

The cast at our first sold out show at NYC’s Best Buy Theater

Right away, I learned that we were going to have to prove ourselves and this concept again and again.  Promoters unfamiliar with us didn’t believe we could sell tickets, since we were a “YouTube act,” and put us in the smallest rooms with low guarantees.  Even the ones that enjoyed our videos didn’t understand how the concept of a variety show or a rotating cast would work; we got asked, “wait, so who’s actually in your band?” quite a bit.  In the end, all we could ask was that the venues and promoters trust us, despite a lack of tour experience.  Luckily, many did.

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The very first Postmodern Jukebox tour show took place in Toronto, and I remember that first show very vividly.  My chief concern was that no one would be there to see us, even though I was told that the show was sold out.  It’s one thing to see numbers on YouTube, but it’s another thing to see actual IRL fans. However, by the time Drue Davis (who performed the emcee role on the first tour) stepped out on stage,  people were screaming.  I took this as a very good sign.

Drue Davis

Drue Davis

That first brief tour of the Northeast ended up being sold out, and from there, I took a gamble and brought the show to Europe for the first time.  Not knowing what to expect, our initial flight took us to Manchester, where we set our sights on our very first tour bus.  It was painted bright yellow, with the company name in a Comic Sans-esque font.  The door was broken and swung open at inopportune times, such as while the bus was in motion.  The water in the sink was scalding hot.  As we traveled from city to city, playing small clubs with limited dressing room space, the “Yellow Submarine” was our home.

Somewhere in Europe

Somewhere in Europe

Despite the bus difficulties, the highlights were plentiful: playing to our biggest crowd to date in Glasgow’s beautiful Oran Mor, watching Tim Kubart pull a Tambourine Guy understudy onstage, or playing a Bosendorfer piano for the first time in Copenhagen (where, coincidentally, Tambourine Guy got pulled offstage by an overzealous security guard).  Fans gave us artwork, freshly baked food, and told us incredible stories about how our music got them through some tough times.  And- best of all – they dressed up.

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Robyn Adele Anderson on the first #PMJtour

The idea of dressing up in your finest vintage clothes to come to a Postmodern Jukebox show wasn’t even prompted by me; it came from the fans on that very first tour.  Sometimes, they even dressed better than the performers onstage, leading to some confusion on the part of the security team.  It dawned on me then that, although we were just meeting our audience for the first time, our fan base had been around longer than we imagined, and they already instinctively understood the world of Postmodern Jukebox.  It was already a real scene, and a much bigger one than I ever could have imagined.

PMJ at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow; a beautiful venue.

PMJ at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow; a beautiful venue.

Indeed, the fans made Postmodern Jukebox what it is today.  To date, PMJ has performed over 200 concerts on four continents.  We’ve also introduced over 40 insanely talented cast members to the world, helping them get the attention that they deserve as they help us bring back #RealMusic.  Without the fans that have, by coming to our shows, “voted” that real live music performed by real live musicians is important to them, we would never have made it this far.  And, as exciting as this has been, we’re just getting started.

Blake Lewis and Maiya Sykes

Blake Lewis and Maiya Sykes

 

Seeing 4000 fans in one room is an inspiring feeling.  For me, it’s also a challenge.  Seeing that crowd gathered together on Friday makes it more clear to me than ever that there is a real demand for honest musical talent and for the timeless, non-autotuned styles of music that we presented on that stage.  Swing, Motown, Doo Wop, Rhythm & Blues, Ragtime- they never really “died out,” as some might suggest.  They’re the lifeblood of popular music today, and in the hands of the talented performers in the PMJ universe, they’re as new and exciting as they always were.

Haley Reinhart

Haley Reinhart

If #RealMusic is something that is important to people, and if I’ve been given the opportunity to help bring this to the masses in some small way, then you can rest assured that I’m going to do everything I can to help turn this into a movement.  I’d love to see a time when the kid in a small town learns to play a brass instrument not because his parents force him to, but because his musical role models play one.  A time when a girl growing up in a big city takes tap lessons because it’s an exciting, living art form to which she wants to contribute.  A time when real musical ability is valued above marketing trends.

Photo by Emily Butler Photography

Photo by Emily Butler Photography

A difficult task? Maybe.  But nearly everything worth doing is.

Jason Alexander after our LA show, wearing our brand new "Vote PMJ" button.

Jason Alexander after our LA show, wearing our brand new “Vote PMJ” button.

-Scott

@scottbradlee

P.S. – our North American tour finishes this week, but you can catch PMJ on tour in UK / Europe very soon – Tix are here.

  • Mike Davie

    Thank you for doing what you do. Having been fortunate enough to see you live in Ithaca, I completely agree. As great as the videos are, and they are pretty great, they don’t compare to the live show. The talent, the energy, the passion about music is very obvious. And all the performers that I met afterwards seemed so happy to talk to us and share their experiences. Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to see you again!

  • Eric

    I still remember the first time I discovered PMJ it was a few years back and I was stumbling through videos for the Game of Thrones intro played on piano. From checking out the other videos on scottbradleelovesYA I knew I discovered something great. The LA show was my second concert, the first being in June at Club Nokia in LA and seeing how far you guys have come in terms of venue size is amazing. Thank you for creating, playing, and inspiring!

  • Jan Strojil

    Will the Vote PMJ buttons be available in the store?

  • Vq

    Hi Scott! I remember when you returned from your first european tour, because you actually did have some kind of webpage back then also, where you sometimes blogged. I remember you said something like, “so we’ve returned from our first tour and I’m going to write about it soon, at the moment I have too much thoughts in my head”, but you never did. But now this one was really fascinating reading 🙂 . I’m eagerly waiting to see you in Tallinn on May 16th !

  • Rabbitsden

    Very well written Scott and gives a great concise story of your journey. I admire your talent and your support to so many live performers. You are right on the mark with all your words about live music, a variety of stage shows featuring superb artists some yet to known, providing incentives for youth to appreciate real music…and have fun with it..to know there is value to live music and performing arts…you are good man. (don’t forget your lucky Canadian stone with a natural hole in it)..and don’t stop!

  • Tony Carreras

    Proud of you man!

  • Michael Meade

    Loved the show! I seriously want to see this show at the Hollywood Bowl next season. I have no idea what it would take to make that happen, but damn, the act would work so well there.

  • Maria Isadora Batubara

    Please come to Bali, Indonesia…

  • SBroggie

    The wife (a newly minted fan) and I were at the Microsoft Theater show in L.A. For me it was the mostly highly anticipated event of the year, only slightly eclipsed by Star Wars. You did not disappoint. We Loved the show so much that we didnt want it to stop.
    I’m the front of house sound tech at a big church and I’m often playing PMJ when I’m working on things during the week (along with posting the videos on Facebook). I often get asked, “who is this? I love this”. Nothing makes me happier than to introduce someone to PMJ. Because of that, many folks asked me this past Sunday, “how was the show?” and now everyone wants to go the next time you’re in town. Lol. Love you guys, keep up the great work, Scott.

  • jmclean

    I would just like to say thank you for making good music cool again. As the parent of a teenage brass musician…who loved every minute of the show in Sacramento as much as my wife and I did…I’m thrilled to see your concept proved. My son commented as we walked to the car that he would love to have a career playing music like that. We look forward to seeing you guys again!

  • Jessica

    I can’t wait to attend more shows. The wait is going to be brutal but well worth it. Scott, you have inspired so many people, even to the ones who only listen and don’t have actual musical talent to explore what real music is about. I may not know how to play an instrument and my vocal chords may not be off the charts but I know good music when I hear it and you have created just that! I’m glad to be apart of the PMJ family.
    You’re right when you say videos and touring are completely different because they SO ARE. I have never experienced anything like what I saw at your show and all I can say is I want more! I introduce PMJ to anyone who asks me about it and you never disappoint.

  • PMJ has me almost wanting to pick up an instrument again…

  • Mike Brown

    Wise words. See you at the Roundhouse on the 11th of March!! 🙂