With Rebecca already has name recognition, but does it also have the talent to make it to the big time?
With Rebecca Alley Katz 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 22 $10 643-2816 With Rebecca might be the world's fastest band. The members formed the group, wrote the songs, and recorded and stamped its shiny new CD in only six months all before ever stepping up on a stage in front of an audience. Although With Rebecca played at Shockoe Espresso in April, and began its two-day CD release tour June 3 with a gig at Plan 9 in Carytown, the audiences for those shows mostly consisted of family and friends. The band's first real test in front of an unfamiliar audience was June 4 at Bottom Line Tap and Grill in Shockoe Bottom. But you could not tell from this latest show that With Rebecca is a band with much more press than practice. That it performed like an experienced, road-seasoned band is not surprising. With Rebecca does everything at lightning speed. You might remember lead singer and University of Virginia student Rebecca Lord from her time on MTV. Last year she appeared on the Seattle installment of "The Real World," a show in which twentysomethings live in an unusually posh apartment free, in return for forfeiting most of their privacy to a camera crew and the millions of viewers who watch their heavily edited lives. If you don't remember her from the show, that's fine with Lord, who wants With Rebecca to be known for its music. "I don't want to be just Rebecca from 'The Real World' in a band," she says. "That's cheesy." While guitarist Matt Roberts admits that the recognition Lord brings is an advantage to the band, he also says he doesn't want the band "to just ride the MTV thing." Lord met Roberts after completing "The Real World," some modeling work, and recording a single with rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot. Their mothers, who teach at St. Catherine's School, introduced them in December. Roberts gave Lord music he had already composed, and she says it was easy to fill in the lyrics. "Generally I'm a moody romantic," she says, "so the songs [Roberts wrote] fit me." Roberts brought in drummer Luis Ferreira and bassist Parrish Ellis soon after. They practice in Ellis' parents' living room, usually just twice a month. When the songs they wrote neared completion, the four went into In Your Ear studio, where Roberts had previously worked on CDs for Baaba Seth and The Pat McGee Band. They emerged after only two days of studio time with "Listen," seven tracks of catchy, melodic pop/rock. They then brought the master recording to Talkeetna Records, a fledgling but ambitious label where Roberts works as a remastering engineer. Now all the band has to do is to prove its music is worth the price of a CD. With Rebecca's first CD release show at Plan 9 was a tangle of technical problems, made worse by thin attendance. Every blemish stood out under the oppressively bright fluorescent lights. It's not unusual for Murphy's Law to plague first-timers, but what is rare is how With Rebecca rebounded. "It's a building process," Roberts said right before his performance the next night at Bottom Line. "With every show you get better." That was an understatement. The difference between the shows at Bottom Line and Plan 9 is the difference between Evian and tap water. In just a little more than 24 hours, the band transformed hesitance and discord into confidence and rhythm. With Rebecca has good reason to make sure it works. While the band agrees that Lord's former accomplishments do not provide a guarantee of success, the members share a certain amount of tense optimism about her fame. This is their big chance, and they know it. Although it is premature to gauge With Rebecca's success, the band already has what many acts never receive: name recognition. Does that translate into talent? You can decide when they play at Alley Katz June
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