BWW Review: Danny Bacher IN THE HOUSE On MetropolitanZoom Is In The Pocket
With the presentation of his show through MetropolitanZoom, Danny Bacher has taken online performing to a place that is, at once, completely new and thoroughly comfortable for him. It necessitated a little grunt work around the house for the gifted jazz musician to make the leap to the internet airwaves, but it was well worth it for him and for his audience. When the audience for Danny Bacher IN THE HOUSE logged in to the Zoom Room provided by MetropolitanZoom they had no vision of Mr. Bacher sitting in his living room or his office, playing his saxophone in front of the fireplace of french doors - they got their favorite jazz crooner parked in front of a microphone with a shimmery curtain behind him, all lit up with brightly colored lamps, just like he was on the stage at The Beach Cafe. For 90 minutes the crowd of family and fans watched Mr. Bacher put on an extremely enjoyable act filled with stellar singing and stunning sax playing. So much does Bacher excel at the two skills that make up his occupation that it is difficult to say which is more entertaining - suffice it to say, when Danny Bacher puts on a show, the audience is twice blessed.
The world of online entertainment is still a young one, with each artist learning their way. Some are live streaming on Facebook and Instagram, some are broadcasting watch parties of previously recorded shows, and some are filming episodes that stay on their Youtube channels for future viewing. Artists using Zoom Rooms for their shows are out there, to be sure, but their numbers are lower than that of the artists who are live streaming, and there is a particular aesthetic that comes with the Zoom Room, one that fits, perfectly, what Danny Bacher is looking to do with his online performances, probably because it fits his own style.
During the hour and a half that Mr. Bacher played classics from The Great American Songbook like Shaking The Blues Away and Making Whoopee, or pop tunes like "Ev'rybody's Talkin'" and "Just the Way You Are" he was able to look at his monitor and see the 43 participants who tuned in to see him - some of the tiles showed his guests at home, others showed only the names of the patrons in their individual tiles. Whether the audience members chose to be visible or not didn't change Danny's ability to relate to them during the show because in between songs he could either communicate with them face to face, waving to nieces and nephews or just call out "I see Stephen Mosher is with us tonight! - even though Stephen Mosher opted to remain off-camera so he didn't have to fix his face or put on clothing, also, so he could take notes on his review without distracting the performer or his guests.
With MetropolitanZoom Bernie Furshpan has created what he calls a "Virtual Venue" and, frankly, that is exactly what it is. Were his audience seeing him at a club, Danny Bacher would be on a stage in front of a curtain with lighting, with members of the audience eating and drinking and clapping. Thanks to a pre-show tutorial that MetropolitanZoom artists take when they are booked, as well as shopping tips from Furshpan, Mr. Bacher was able to order materials online (which he will use again and again) to create the nightclub look in his home - curtains, lights, and more. Because of the Zoom Room tiles, Danny Bacher can see his audience watching, see when they are moved by what he is doing, see when they are clapping, and even watch them eating and drinking. The guests get to look at one another and see that their fellow patrons are enjoying the show, just as they would if they looked around Birdland to see if their neighboring tables were having a good time. MetropolitanZoom even provides virtual backgrounds for the guests, so their dwellings aren't seen on camera. This is the nightclub of this moment in time, the cabaret of quarantine, and it allows artists like Bacher to continue to work and fans to further their patronage of their favorites. While chatting with his audience, Bacher noted fans from cities across the nation, indeed, from other countries, something not possible in the previous cabaret and concert scene, but definitely in the works for the future. Further benefits to the format include not being bothered when guests are talking during the show because Furshpan has producers in the Zoom Room seeing to it that each guest's mic is muted and protecting the performance from technical glitches and in-the-moment surprises. Particularly special for this writer was watching guests who allowed themselves to really be in the moment - people like Martine Jaffe, who was a joy to behold as she and her date danced around the living room to Bacher's impeccable music-making, or Valerie Urde, a true champion who beat COVID-19, tuning in from her hospital bed, or Pamela Clay, who had SUCH a good time that she could not be contained - Ms. Clay is the Zoom Room audience member every artist wants at their virtual show, thoroughly heightening the happy experience.
There are so many benefits to this brand of online performance that they cannot be measured, even though it is different from live performance in which the singer and the audience are in the same room, and naysayers might well be advised to take a chance on the medium, look into the performances happening in Zoom Rooms, and try one on for size. The most valuable part of this new form of live entertainment is that it keeps gig workers like Danny Bacher in motion. Mr. Bacher is one of the best at what he does and anyone who has heard him play, had the pleasure of hearing his gorgeous voice in action, or thrilled at his jazz stylings (no, really, THRILLED) would heartily endorse the recommendation this writer is making. Bacher even asked for audience participation on "Minnie The Moocher" (come on, you know which part) and it didn't interrupt his own music because everyone singing along was muted! But we could still see them singing along, we could all see each other clapping afterward, waving at Danny, throwing him Thumbs Ups. Danny Bacher understands that true art requires limitation, and he took the limitation being placed on his artistry, then cut his suit to fit his cloth. By bringing his music to people still sheltering in place, by delivering his charm and wit to the fans who love his winsome personality, he is providing a much-needed service - a distraction from the madness, and a reminder of that which is good in life: music, friendship, art, and community.
Learn more about MetropolitanZoom at their website HERE