It says something about this band that, when I went to the Hive to hear them play, I couldn’t find a seat.

The Dictators and Fools concert March 7 not only packed the pub, but was a different from the current wave of alternative groups that dominate the popular airwaves today.

The show opened with a hard-hitting song, “Broken Seams,” which was a showing of the band’s powerful stage presence.

There was a hint of funk present, which the band returned to later in the song “The Spicer Teacher.” The variety of their sound is one of the things that makes a 17-song set enjoyable.

The band’s biggest shortcoming has to be the between-song banter, which kind of slowed their pacing down and distracted from the music. This was bad, because it made it harder to get into the music.

They showed a broad range of talents, from slower ballads, like “Inside the Maze” to harder, rougher songs, like “Clear Skies,” and even an instrumental piece, “Pious Plethora.”

The highlight of the show for me was the cover of “All Along the Watchtower.” The band’s original innovations were good, but their potential came across amazingly well in the cover.

I like covers a lot. A lot of great artists cover other artists. A lot of covers suck, though ? the worst thing a band can possibly do with a cover song is to just play it the same way the original band did. I can buy the CD. When a band re-imagines a song and completely adds their own character to it, though, a great cover is made.

The band’s rendition of “Watchtower” did justice to Bob Dylan’s song ? popularized by Hendrix’s cover ? in a new and quite pleasing style.

The band’s adaptation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, “Sunshine,” while interesting to say the least, left something to be desired, seeming at times to be contrived.

The onstage chemistry of the band, however, almost made up for some of the contrivances. The chemistry was most visible between junior frontman Dan Gross and junior guitarist Adam Cook. It seemed least strong between Gross and junior drummer Scott Sturdivant.

The band’s sound, while usually rougher and harder, comes across best when done in a refined way, such as their cover of “Alive.”

Some of their songs were a bit too “fresh,” to use lead singer Dan Gross’s word, and as a result, came across as less unified and more than a tad under-rehearsed.

On the whole, the band’s chemistry was great, and their on stage energy kept the pacing up. With few complaints, I would have to say that Dictators and Fools is a powerful band, and puts forward a strong show.

Powell can be reached at

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