This Way to the Egress’ Great Balancing Act depicts a figure straddling two chairs, perched atop a globe. While the image suggests a geopolitical struggle, the group’s act balances being a dance band and swingin’ musicians.
This is a band that has grown. Their first album, This Delicious Cabaret, saw them taking shape. The carnie-punk, kitchen sink instrumentation and morbid themes were in place but needed a bit of honing. Their sophomore Mighty Seed took a much more dance-oriented approach. The beat was in place. The Kickstarter-funded Great Balancing Act shows how they learned to integrate the beat and develop as musicians: they swing! They have room for solos and play with pacing, but they know how to keep feet moving. It approaches swing jazz.
It’s pretty easy to liken circus-sounding music to soundtrack composer Danny Elfman. It just requires some minor-key oompah and passing nods to men on flying trapezes. When I first listened to the new “Earworm,” it struck me that they sounded like Oingo Boingo, where Elfman got his start. There’s keen musicianship, rollicking rhythm, horn action and an implied fondness for Cab Calloway.
This Way to the Egress still sounds very much like itself. Tuba and cello provide bass, accordion and violin add Eastern European flavor and multiple vocalists take their leads. They continue to provide a good time as they learn and grow.
This Way to the Egress performs at Café Mustache, 2313 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL, June 13 at 9pm.