It was impossible not to move to the electrifying sounds of The Shadowboxers, who played at Schuba’s Tavern on Friday night. In matching white button-down, short sleeve shirts and dark pants, the group of 5 put on a show without a dull moment. It was no surprise that they were discovered by Justin Timberlake, as their vocals and energy channeled that of Mr. Timberlake’s.
However, it is clear their influence goes far beyond Timberlake’s career. Their set began with a chilling vocal harmony similar to the beginning of The Beatles’ “Because.” In the blink of an eye, the song quickly transformed into an upbeat pop-rock song, and without even missing a beat, the audience began dancing along. Swanky, light, and energized, their music was delicious as it floated from the stage into the air. Adam, Matt, and Scott began sliding back and forth across the stage in a synchronized fashion to the tune of their music, all while playing their instruments, it instilled even more enthusiasm in the crowd, and we cheered them on.
Knowing their audience, The Shadowboxers then played a cover of Chance the Rapper’s “All Night.” A catchy song to begin with, the group evolved it even further to fit their style—a 70’s pop version, if you will. Their set continued with extremely impressive vocals, reaching into the falsetto range, and upbeat, jazzy tunes. Some elements of their set were heavier and more soulful, however. At one point, Adam broke into a guitar solo. With the way he closed his eyes and moved his body to his own tune, you would think he was on a deserted planet with his guitar as his only source of entertainment. It reminded me of Jimi Hendrix, who was so in-tune with his guitar that he could play for hours and not even notice that there was anyone else in the room. The bass player, Carlos, had the same effect. Wearing sunglasses in a dark room, I’m not even confident he could see his instrument. Yet, he still laid the foundation for their music phenomenally.
Finally, The Shadowboxers played their newest release, “Build The Beat.” A song about standing up on your own two feet after being knocked down. It uses music as a metaphor to inspire and instill positivity in its listeners. With the lyrics, “I fell like we all do/ and I’ve been lost a time or two/ So I just wanna tell you/ Gotta build the beat back up.” Its message is pure and simple, yet never lacking in importance. It is my personal favorite song of theirs, enjoyment captured in a medley of instruments. Their groovy, silky sound with edgy vocals lifted everyone’s spirits beyond the roof of the building, as if our souls were transformed into clouds. We all ran marathons afterwards… Just kidding.
An encore was of course demanded of the band, and we were not disappointed. Matt, Scott, and Adam, returned to the stage and gave us an acapella tribute to the extraordinary talent that passed on this year. George Michael’s “Faith,” Prince’s “Kiss,” and even Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination” were all featured in a creative compilation, which also showcased the band’s variety of talents. If it wasn’t perfectly clear earlier in the night, the band has a breadth of knowledge and appreciation for various genres of music, and knows how to put it together smoothly and seamlessly.
From the first few seconds of their show, The Shadowboxers had me. A force of powerful and seductive energy, I was up for hours afterwards raving about them like I was a little girl in 1999 who just went to a Backstreet Boys concert (Sorry, Justin). Seeing The Shadowboxers was unforgettable experience that I will cherish.