Monique Powell Revives Save Ferris From the Ashes in Minneapolis Show
It took over a decade, but after a series of departures, new arrivals, and some legal haggling, Save Ferris has found new life with a recently released EP and an extensive North American tour. The band entertained an enthusiastic crowd at Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis on Saturday night, showcasing their new sound and look. A ska-punk group from Orange County fronted by Monique Powell, Save Ferris took audiences by storm in the late 1990s after the success of their cover for “Come on Eileen” and popular cameo in zeitgeist teen film 10 Things I Hate About You, but faded into oblivion in the early 2000s before resurfacing in 2013 with Powell introducing a new lineup playing old tunes. Braving the resurrected Minnesota winter last Saturday, Powell sang and danced across the Fine Line stage in black high heels (which she never took off) and a form-fitting dress featuring a print with Cthulhu—enchanting the crowd after everyone was warmed up by rock band Baby Baby and local ska group Umbrella Bed. The 41-year-old singer and her band that was named to honor the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off powered through a fast-paced 60-minute set, taking only brief breaks to hydrate or make wardrobe changes. Performances of “Turn it Up,” “Superspy,” “Goodbye” and “Do I Even Like You” were the heavy favorites of the night with concertgoers packing the front of the two-level venue, swing-dancing while taking in Powell’s raspy and dazzling lyrics. After changing into her “pajamas,” which consisted of a halter top and slacks, Powell and her band mates retook the stage for an encore, showcasing “New Sound” and “Come on Eileen,” arguably the band’s most popular and recognizable song despite being a cover for a 1982 Dexys Midnight Runners song of the same name. Save Ferris's night in Minneapolis unfolded like a rebirth. Audience members watched Powell reemerge from the ashes like a phoenix, showing off her confidence, passion and sexy stage persona while profiling the group’s new music from Checkered Past, which somehow felt very new and fresh while also respecting Save Ferris's past and legacy. Beyond Powell’s powerful and super-charged presence, a handful of unique moments really stuck out during her group’s set and highlight the emotional highs of the evening. The first consisted of bassist Gordon Bash climbing on top of his bass mid-song, carefully balancing himself as he continued to play. Another signature moment came at the end of the concert when members of Baby Baby took the stage to celebrate the finale of their leg of the tour. The night ended spectacularly with musicians literally on the backs of other musicians—while still playing their instruments—with Fontez Brooks, singer and guitar player for Baby Baby, profiling some less than desirable dance moves that would have left Axl Rose shaking his head. For Save Ferris, the road back to relevance seems to be in the rear-view mirror now that the band has dropped its first album in nearly two decades. Checkered Past—an extended play with five songs, including standout track “New Sound”—was released last month, laying the groundwork for the band's two-month, 32-stop tour across North America. Though the tour wraps on March 26 in Anaheim, everything seems to be trending in the right direction for both Save Ferris and Powell, and it probably doesn’t hurt that ska music has recently found new life.
Paul Patane