About 100 people wander around Speakeasy on Saturday night, ordering drinks and yelling conversation over the top-40 and hip-hop tracks that are blaring from the speakers, but all attention turns to getting down on the dance floor when Captain Cosmos and his band of outer space superheroes take the stage.
“Hey, we’re The Space Rockers!” Captain Cosmos yells at the pumped-up, tipsy people in the crowd. The band starts jamming energy-fueled covers of everything from “Pour Some Sugar on Me” to “Apple Bottom Jeans” — complete with choreographed dance moves — and the wacky space story begins to make more sense.
The Space Rockers, a show band from Austin, play covers of hip-hop dance music at venues and events. But that’s not the answer they’ll give if someone asks them what’s up with the tentacle-like dreadlocks, the tight-fitting, color-coordinated superhero outfits and that invisible, talking spaceship.
“We’re superheroes from outer space,” said Captain Cosmos, who goes by Cord Stone when he’s on Earth. “We’re all from different planets and we’re actually a famous band throughout the universe, but we heard a distress call from Earth — that Earth has lost its groove — and we came to help to bring the groove back.”
The band, which is made up of five guys with different superhero identities, work hard to accomplish their groove-retrieving mission, and the effort is obvious when the smoke covers the stage, the psychedelic lights start flashing and The Space Rockers appear.
“It’s not a normal cover band,” Stone, 32, said. “We don’t just get up there in jeans and shirts and play. [We] bring another element to the show; it makes you part of it, drags you into it. We could be in a Las Vegas show. It’s like I’ve gone to the gym for three hours after I’m done. We all do a bunch of choreographed dance moves that are a blast and a lot of it’s free for all, too. We do not stop moving, ever.”
The audience Saturday has a similar philosophy. They’re rollicking to the left and to the right in unison to the infamous dance number “Cupid Shuffle” as if they had been practicing at home. Everyone’s smiling and singing along, and it appears as if the only thing on most people’s minds at the moment is keeping up with the moves and not spilling their drinks — a noticeable difference from the hesitation that some of them might have felt when they arrived earlier that night and seen what looks like an electrified, hip-hop version of The Wiggles.
“I think they’re amazing,” said Natalie Dean, who attended the show Saturday. “[The show] was phenomenal. I don’t know about their superhero space thing, but it looks like they’re all having an amazing time, and that goes a long way.”
Stone, who has dreadlocks, wears a homemade, red and black outfit with an electronic wrist device that allows him to communicate with the invisible spaceship (a recorded mechanical female voice that answers on cue) when he’s on stage. The band’s extraterrestrial look can be a little weird for first time show-goers, but Stone said that the performance usually wins over any doubters.
“Guys and girls will walk in and their reaction will be like, ‘What the hell is this? Oh my God. What is this?’” Stone said. “And then they’ll stay for a song or two. And then two turns into the whole night. And then they’ll come over to me after and say that they had been going to leave when they first saw us. It’s really cool because it runs the gamut of guys with beards and heavy metal shirts saying, ‘Oh my God, I thought I was going to hate you guys, but … I loved you guys!’ to really preppy people, too.”
The Space Rockers have been a band for about three years, ever since Stone had some success with a different cover band and decided that he wanted to start his own, but one that dresses like superheroes. Just wearing capes and masks wasn’t enough for him, however — “I needed another edge to it,” he said. Then the space element came to him one day when he was in the shower.
“I wanted to do a space thing — a little science fiction,” Stone said. His fantastical tendencies are in reverence of old monster movies and comic books. “There’s nothing cooler than science fiction. Or superheroes. I love ‘em, so I put ‘em together.”
He worked to create the perfect lineup, which he said involved searching out extroverted, talented, funny individuals that understood that The Space Rockers were more about the performance than musicianship (“It’s not really about how great of a guitar solo I’m going to play,” he explained). After a little trial and error he found what he was looking for in his current bandmates, who have been with him for about a year. And their creation has paid off.
Stone, who plays with The Space Rockers for a living, said that the band plays an average of two to four shows a week — at everything from clubs and corporate events to weddings and birthday parties — across the Southern United States (they just got back from playing a wedding in Pennsylvania). And they have shows booked throughout the rest of the year. There has been so much work that he started Stargazer Productions, LLC in order to manage two additional show bands (The Video Stars and The Boogies) that each fill a particular niche.
But regardless of how busy business is, Stone said that The Space Rockers are his priority.
“The Space Rockers are like my baby,” Stone said. “They’re the band that started it all. Anywhere there’s a party and people need to start moving and shaking it, we’ll be there.”
Printed on 07/18/2011 as: Space Jam: Cover band uses unique theme to book gigs, entertain crowds