There are very few things in life that never seem to get old — one of them is the cover band Rod Tuffcurls and The Bench Press. In the four times that I’ve seen them perform, their set list has rarely changed, yet they somehow manage to always surprise me.
Playing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Majestic Theatre last weekend, the band performed a variety of songs, ranging from today’s pop hits to classics like ‘60s soul and ‘80s rock.
Though their songs are wide-ranging, they’re the ones that everyone seems to know all of the lyrics to. I found myself screaming along to their renditions of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “I’ll Make a Man out of You” from “Mulan,” something my vocal chords now hate me for.
Perhaps what keeps drawing me back to the group’s concerts is their entertaining traditions and interaction with the crowd.
They always wear matching shorts that barely cover their thighs and baseball tees reminiscent of the ‘80s, making them look like they just came out of gym class. And while their real identities remain a secret to the public, some say that one of the members was a former UW-Madison student and Bucky Badger mascot.
The band also takes frequent breaks, prompting the audience to follow along with them in a move called “chug-em-ups,” where they do a series of squats, pump whichever fist isn’t clutching a beer and chug — all to the beat of a song from the video game “Final Fantasy VII.”
"From start to finish, Rod Tuffcurls never broke their energy — in fact, they seemed to become even more powerful throughout the night."
From start to finish, Rod Tuffcurls never broke their energy — in fact, they seemed to become even more powerful throughout the night. As they sang with lively gestures and jumped into funny dance moves, it was hard not to jam out along with them.
What made the performance even better was getting to dance next to complete strangers. One of the crowd’s favorite songs of the night was “Africa” by Toto. In yet another Rod Tuffcurls tradition, the entire crowd chanted “Bud Light Lime” during the song’s instrumental breaks while waving their fists in the air.
By the end of the night, I felt like everyone in the audience was my long-lost friends. Some in the crowd linked arms, swaying back and forth while Rod Tuffcurls played “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. And a trumpet player randomly appeared onstage to play a solo during their cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.”
Their last song of the show — “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from “Dirty Dancing” — was certainly reflective of the feeling among everyone at the end of the night. An audience member turned to me as Rod Tuffcurls exited the stage and said, “They’re right. I really did have the time of my life.”
I walked out of the Majestic with a sore neck from dancing too hard and a lost voice from cheering too loud, but I still longed to hear more of their music and for that same sense of friendship with people whom I had never met before.