By Emma Mac

I’ve been following JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound for a few years now, and every time I see them is the best show I’ve seen.

It seems like everyone is a DJ these days, and people congregate to nod their heads at shows where some genius plays the computer for three hours. That being said, dancing to a soul band comprised of talented musicians who tap that old school sound in a new way is more than a breath of fresh air. Now there’s nothing wrong with head banging like there’s no tomorrow, but Mr. Brooks has a way of making you pick your head up and dance like you’re cruising down the line on Soul Train in 1976. Which is exactly what I did at their New Year’s Eve show at Mayne Stage.

JCBUS hit the ground running with their unique rendition of Wilco’s “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart,” and continued to fill over 2 hours with tracks from 2011’s Want More, like the feel-goods “Sister Ray Charles” and “Bad News.” They also delighted us with some of their earlier tunes from their 2009 debut “Beat Of Our Own Drum” like the instant classic “Baltimore Is the New Brooklyn,” the foot stomping James brown influenced “Alright” and even revved the crowd with a cover of Softcell’s “Tainted Love.” The band performed without the added excitement of the horn section but was still able to hold their own.

The night mainly went like this: Brooks gave off an electric energy to the audience, who reciprocated this energy by screaming back on his call and responses, dancing like it was 2012, and the cycle would repeat. It was like a battle between JC and the audience over who could have more fun. In fact, half the fun was looking back on the kids dancing to see how crazy this band makes people. Uninvited guests tried to jump on stage more than once, who were politely asked to leave. But who could blame them?

Going to a JC Brooks show feels like finding out about a really awesome Chicago secret. But don’t take my word for it, you have to find out for yourself. And the next time you see them, make sure to bring your dancing shoes.

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