If the name Playback doesn’t ring a bell, it shouldn’t. They’re a new group and they are famous for being on a television show. I’ll give you a big clue – X Factor USA.
The group consisting of Johnny, Brandon, Josh, Owen, and Austin were all amateur acts who tried out on X Factor earlier this year. All five young men were cut as singles very late in the game, but then put together as a boy band, making it to the judges’ house portion of the show, which was the last elimination before the live shows started. They were Simon Cowell’s last group eliminated. A combination of already having a young male group in Emblem3, trying to cater to the country audience with Sister C, and hoping to capitalize on last year’s rap phenom Astro, were probably the reasons Cowell eliminated them. Personally, I thought they were better for the show than either Sister C (boring) or Lyric 145 (too gimmicky).
Being the American Idol/X Factor recap guy on the website, of course I had to check them out. Really, my kids wanted to see them and I just tagged along. The reason the group was in small-town Gilroy, CA, is because of Gilroy homeboy Austin Corini.
Small music venue 9 Lives hosted the “reunion concert”. I asked the person at the door how many people were there for the concert and she said over 300, and I’d guess that at least 250 of those were young girls and their mothers. The high-pitched screams were at a maximum all night long.
Playback mainly did covers of popular songs, similar to what they did on X Factor. I do know that they were doing some recording over the weekend as I talked to Corini’s dad, but he didn’t say if the were recording original music or not. If they were, they didn’t perform any here, which was probably a smart move.
They performed songs by Justin Bieber, One Direction, and Ed Sheeran, among others. They were there to do one thing and they did it well; entertain the young females. Johnny is the alpha dog of the group, has the most charisma, and moves the best, but he’s without the best voice. He comes off as a hype man of sorts, but really, he’s the one that got the crowd going, including making hearts with his hands during songs which caused a squeal-y pitched scream every time. Brandon has the best voice, while Austin cleans up singing the hooks. Owen is actually far more like the Emblem3 boys and may be a little outcast, but he also shows great promise doing the sing songy rap stuff. Josh is the most proper, wearing a scarf all evening and let’s just say that it wasn’t cold inside the building. It was there simply for show.
The group is still very early in the game and their stage act shows it. There wasn’t much choreography and a couple of the boys were getting too close to the speakers, giving major feedback that you rarely see at a stage show. Playback or Feedback? Their vocals are also very raw, especially in a live setting. But I polled some of the audience and no one really seemed to care. Even my own sons and their friends who aren’t necessarily in their demographic, thought they were good.
It will be interesting to see if the group can make it. Without the X Factor push, it looks like it could be hard. But if they can turn those 250 young girls into 250,000, success will come soon enough.