‘Hot Dads in Tight Jeans’ take over the House of Blues

Yacht+Rock+Revues+Dave+Freeman+playing+the+saxophone+at+the+House+of+Blues+on+Jan.+7.+

Photo: Charlie McKenna

Yacht Rock Revue’s Dave Freeman playing the saxophone at the House of Blues on Jan. 7.

By Charlie McKenna, Contributing Reporter

After a nearly two-hour delay, the audience at Yacht Rock Revue’s Jan. 7 concert exploded when the band finally made their way to the stage and the opening notes of “Greatest American Hero” boomed through the House of Blues. 

That audience, comprised primarily of boomers and Gen Xers donning captain’s hats, seemed to lose their minds every time the band began a song. After all, the setlist consisted of primarily stone-cold classics. Ever heard of “Africa”? I thought so. 

Now, dear reader, you might be unfamiliar with the concept of Yacht Rock. I could provide a definition, but it’s more prudent to provide an image. You’re standing aboard a yacht. A gentle breeze drifts by as you’re holding a glass of white wine. What music are you to pair with said wine? The answer—yacht rock, essentially soft rock produced by a group of elite studio musicians in the mid-to-late ‘70s and early ‘80s in California.

Yacht Rock Revue’s origin story is a fun one—the band began as Y-O-U, an independent rock band making their way in Atlanta in the aughts. But then, one night, they played a set of yacht rock songs. The rest, as they say, is history. Y-O-U quickly became Yacht Rock Revue, a yacht rock cover band that also released their first album of original music, “Hot Dads in Tight Jeans,” in 2020. 

This isn’t your garden variety cover band though. These are professional musicians who have been working steadily for years—the guitar player, Mark Dannels, went to Berklee! That brings a level of credibility and quality to the covers that are often lost in your typical cover band. 

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The Jan. 7 setlist was full of those classic covers, which the band, helmed by lead singer Nick Niespodziani, handled with aplomb. I’d seen the band once before—in Webster, Mass. in August. At the close of that concert, a fellow audience member gave me a fist bump and proclaimed, “this kid knows all the words.” 

The House of Blues show offered a nice variety from the previous concert, with the band playing different songs from the yacht rock catalog, but still performing enough of the hits to satisfy the oddly horny older crowd—and me. 

I would be remiss not to mention the heavy emphasis on alcohol at this show—almost everyone on the floor was drinking, and there were three bars adjacent to the performance space. It made for a rollicking atmosphere, though maybe not a very COVID-safe one. 

The show, which was supposed to begin at 6:30, didn’t wind up starting until closer to 8:30—the almost inevitable result of choosing to go see a concert on a day where Boston received more than 11 inches of snow. Thankfully, the band had no opener and got right into the music—delivering banger after banger. 

The titular hot dads in tight jeans all donned aviator sunglasses and a wide variety of tight-fitting vaguely Hawaiian shirts, accompanied by jeans that flared out at the ankle. Think Margaritaville, but slightly cooler. The band, which features seven members, offered very well-done renditions of your parents’ favorite songs, if not adventurous. They added a slight dash of their own original songs—something I would’ve liked to see more of as a big “Hot Dads in Tight Jeans” fan. But, when the boomers are around, you can’t expect much but the classics. 

I was pleasantly surprised to actually not know all the words this time. Songs like “Still the One” and “Night Fever” were out of left-field choices. I’m not sure the band stuck strictly to their yacht rock mantra, but with the need to stretch the genre over two nights (they also performed the following night in Boston), so the decision to spice up the catalog makes sense.

Of course, there was plenty of time for excellent renditions of “Baker Street”—with the band’s saxophone player, Dave Freeman, who also dabbled in the flute, melodica, and keys during the show, repeatedly receiving the loudest ovation from the crowd—and “Escape,” better known as the “Piña Colada song.” I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that my beloved Steely Dan appeared on the setlist not once, but twice during the show. 

There’s a fun variety to the acts featured in a yacht rock show—with obscure bands and artists like Robbie Dupree, Ambrosia, and Rupert Holmes all getting shine. Of course, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, and Christopher Cross—the holy trinity of yacht rock—were well represented in the setlist, but the band still made time for all that yacht rock has to offer. 

At the close of the show, Niespodziani teased that these hot dads would return to the tour circuit over the summer—and if they do, I’ll be sure to track them down for an afternoon of Hawaiian shirts, captain’s hats, and maybe a couple beers. After all, I can never turn down an opportunity to channel my inner boomer.