At first, one could describe the Hot Sardines through the cliche and expected terms that define a French influenced hot jazz show:
1) It was hot. It is summer afterall. 2) We were packed in “like sardines” at the sold out show. 3) It was Bastille Day, and a French flag draped the piano (Elizabeth Bougerol, lead singer of The Hot Sardines, is French). “Vive la France!” 4) French wine was served. 5) Blazers and suspenders were everywhere.
But what made The Hot Sardines the best show on the block on Tuesday July 14 was the truly unexpected. It was the mere fact that this Parisian singer met co-leader Evan “Bibs” Palazzo through a CraigsList ad and play 20’s -30’s inspired jazz to sell-out crowds in 2015. It was the rows of chairs that lined the Bowery Ballroom floor; chairs that eventually “parted as the red sea” as Elizabeth called it, to make room for the dancers. It was the case of French wine that got distributed to the best dressed or the one who danced their socks off. It was the tap dancer who’s mic’ed shoes counted as an instrument. It was the grand finale that turned into a parade that marched right on outside into that hot night and the rain to take the party to the street.
I’m starting to believe that it would be a party wherever Elizabeth goes. Her wit and her charm found their way in between each and every tune.
A few select examples of Tuesday’s offerings:
- To a winner of a bottle of wine, whose polka dot shorts redefined the definition of shorts: “It was a pleasure to sing eight feet from your tushie. I have counted those dots.”
- Regarding their upcoming show on CBS This Morning: “It’s Legit. Like L-U-H-G-I-T, legit.”
- About waking up in Paris: “The best part of waking up in Paris is the pastries. So this is a song called Jelly Roll.”
Like a well oiled comedienne, the jokes and lines just kept coming. They punctuated the songs and made sure that every audience member was smiling, laughing, drinking, dancing and cheering. To punctuate here is an art form. You see it when the trumpet follows up a word like “scream” to give musical meaning to the word. You see it when Elizabeth and a member of her band have timed butt-bumps to a song.
About midway through the evening, the can-can trio The Love Show Dancers graced the stage floor with their presence (and boy, was it a present). It was an energetic break from the Hot Sardines, who seemed to be the biggest fans of the dancers in the room. After their performance, Elizabeth claimed that she had “no idea how we can follow that.”
But we followed her. We followed Elizabeth into the standard “Comes Love” which wasn’t standard at all as it was sung in French. We followed Elizabeth’s instructions to dance low “even if we had bad knees.” And I’m sure we’d follow her to France if it meant “waking up in Paris” and grooving alongside the Hot Sardines. And the pasties of course.
When The Hot Sardines performed at their residency at Joe’s Pub last year, they sold out every show. All 15 of them. Which means, if you want to have an opportunity to see The Hot Sardines, jump on it. And by jump, I mean dance over to the ticket booth with your suspenders and a pair of character heels. Because you just never know when The Hot Sardines may have a case of wine to distribute to the best dressed.