The Flying Saucer is a downtown bar that features an absurd variety of beer and cheeses, and occupies a historic 19th-century bank building. It's also one of the few venues in Sundance Square committed to hiring bands that do original music -- setting it apart from other, cover-band-oriented downtown venues.
Saturday, the Boss Level took over the small stage on the covered back patio, where the band played a mix of originals and its own take on covers as diverse as Going the Distance by Cake, Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin, and even Easy, by Lionel Richie.
We're talking an eclectic assortment of hip-hop, soul, rock 'n' roll and some serious funk.
Frontman Daniel Hardaway, in addition to vocals, trumpet and cowbell, contributes the lyrics and structure of the band's original tunes. Individual band members then write their own parts as needed. Although many of the songs are romantic in nature, the Boss Level also has a political and social agenda. For instance, the song it closed with, The Paranoid Anthem, is about how fear-based our society has become.
"I call it the Rush Limbaugh song." keyboardist Justin Barbee told me. "It's the idea that they're going to steal everything from you. Whoever 'they' are."
"It could work for the wealthy person who is worried about wealth distribution," said Hardaway, "or it could work for the illuminati conspiracy theorists, or the person who thinks that all corporations are just going to kill us. It can go either way. I don't necessarily say which way I am, but if you've ever felt that way, then hopefully you can kind of get that connection."
In addition to Hardaway and Barbee, band members include Josh Vandenburg (guitar), Ed Chaney (drums) and Paul Garza (bass). With two trumpets (at times, Justin plays trumpet and keys simultaneously), inventive synth riffs, jazzy piano parts and a rock-solid rhythm section, the instrumentals were unusual but tight.
You can't really pigeonhole this band into one particular style. Every table on the patio was filled for the entire four-hour show. (Indeed, if the cover-band-only clubs are worried about scaring away an audience, the success of these guys suggest those worries are entirely unfounded.) The crowd was enthusiastic and dedicated, and people walking by the open-air concert were drawn to the music like a wrecking ball to a historic Fort Worth theater.
For information about the Boss Level, check out the band's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Boss-Level/ (the bands MySpace page is out of date). Friday, they will play at The Moon on Berry, opening for Josh Weathers. Sure to be a killer show.