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Better than the real thing? Pop ROCKS thinks so

WORTHINGTON -- Pop ROCKS doesn't think of themselves as a typical cover band. They prefer to be called a "High Energy Live Music Show." The group, which takes the Regatta stage at 8 p.m. June 10 in a concert sponsored by Sanford Worthington, star...

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Pop ROCKS will take the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday during the Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival. (Special to the Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Pop ROCKS doesn’t think of themselves as a typical cover band. They prefer to be called a “High Energy Live Music Show.”

 

The group, which takes the Regatta stage at 8 p.m. June 10 in a concert sponsored by Sanford Worthington, started out about 11 years ago as a part-time cover band. A few years in, though, its members took notice of tribute band Hairball’s huge popularity in the Midwest.

 

“We were already doing some costumes, and thought it would be cool to do the same kind of thing, but include every genre of music,” said group leader The Rev, who wished to be referred to by his stage name.

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Instead of simply doing covers of popular music, the group decided to truly emulate popular bands or artists. In one show, they'll run through as many as 40 different acts,

 

“It started with one costume, then five, then 10 all the way up to 40 a show,” The Rev said.

 

With so many songs and so little time, Pop ROCKS shows move at a rapid pace. The band performs the “American Idol” versions of songs, typically only doing the first verse and chorus.

 

“We do this because we want do something for everyone,” The Rev said. “It would be really hard to play the long form of those songs, because if you don’t like that genre, and you’re stuck there for five minutes listening to Garth Brooks, you’d be (mad).”

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The goal is to get the impersonation as close as possible, both visually and musically.

 

“We start by creating medleys in garageband by taking concert versions  of music - we look at ‘how does Rihanna perform this live, what does Justin Timberlake’s live band do?’” The Rev said.

 

“We see how they cut stuff up, then create transitions and send that out to the group, so when we get together to rehearse, you already have an idea of what to do.”

 

The show has standard acts that are always included, such as Lady Gaga, Twisted Sister, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Bono and Pitbull. Three performers rotate as the main singers, including The Rev, for the eight-person band.

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The Rev said the group works hard at their craft, and in some cases, the covers are probably better than the original performer.

 

“Around the holidays, we add ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’” he said. “And there are definitely times where our Mariah Carey is better than Mariah Carey live.”

 

Pop ROCKS perform primarily in the five-state area, and have flown out to special events in Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Panama City, Panama. They also perform at USO shows in the Middle East.

 

Coming into Worthington, The Rev said the band’s shoreside performance was going to be a “whirlwind.”

 

“It really feels like the community and the promoters of the event put a lot into it, so we’re super, super excited,” he said. “There’s tons of town festivals where we show up and it just says ‘live band playing at 9 o'clock’ so this is definitely better promoted than that.”

 

 

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