Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox
Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch, NZ
October 2nd, 2017
4/5 stars


On October 2nd, I had the privilege of attending the Postmodern Jukebox concert in Christchurch. Known for their jazzy sound, Postmodern Jukebox are a group making eccentric music. In a good way, of course.

At the concert, it was described by members of the group as “gramophone music in a smartphone world.” It’s like a blast from the past, but mixing old timey music with Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, and Selena Gomez, to name a few. The lyrics are the same as the pop version, but the singing and instrumentals are drastically different. When was the last time you heard Beyoncé’s Halo with a jazz twist? The concept is interesting, but it somehow works. Eventually, you’ll find yourself shamelessly singing along to their songs.

Before the concert, I put on my red floral dress and hopped in the car, ready for an interesting experience. It was my sixteenth birthday a few weeks before, and I got a double pass to see Postmodern Jukebox. I decided to take my girlfriend to the concert. Besides, catching her lip syncing to their songs from time to time is hilarious. We walked from the carpark to the venue.

Checking the time, we noticed we were almost an hour early, so we decided to get Gelato from the shop nearby. I chose the flavour ‘One in a Winston’, which was a topical flavour and an acquired taste of dark chocolate and licorice. Being early was in fact not so bad, as I thought of the creative Instagram caption “PMJ with the bae” while waiting outside the venue to be let in.

I guess time flies when you’re having fun, since we were sat down listening to PMJ in no time. The concert started at 8:30 with an introduction from the MC, and getting into singing covers of songs like Bye Bye Bye by NSYNC.

The band also introduced a new singer, Hannah Gill, with a vintage rendition of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know. It came as a shock that Hannah was a new singer, and put me on the edge of my seat to hear the veterans who have been practising that style of sound for years. Hannah hit each note with perfection, and really knew how to keep the crowd engaged.

Throughout many high notes and hit songs, different singers and performers came onstage. The next act was a battle of the sexes between the two PMJ percussionists on tour. Dave Tedeschi, the drummer, had the fierce competition of Sarah Reich, a tap dancer who has been with them for years. After each percussion solo, the band members tried to outdo each other to have the best performance. The winner was decided by whoever got the most cheers from the lively audience. Sarah managed to win by performing what looked like an extremely difficult tap solo, complete with tambourines and intense cheering.

The stars of the show, however, proved yet to shine. The audience heard from the pianist of the group that apparently the MC of the night, LaVance Colley, was a singer himself. After some hesitation and pressure from the audience, he belted out a jazzy version of Bruno Mars’ That’s What I Like.

This act was followed by Maiya Sykes, a PMJ singer who has been with the band from the beginning. She first told us a story of when she was a child and went to the record store for the first time. Young Maiya could only afford to buy two records, and she decided on a jazz and a hip-hop album. She fell in love with both styles of music, and thought “if only I could mix these two styles of music,” which led her to Postmodern Jukebox. She sang a notorious B.I.G. song first, since it was his record that got her into singing.

The whole night was held together by high notes, piano ballads, and rhythm that made me want to get up and dance. My leg was shaking for the entire concert, as I found it impossible to not move during the jazzy sounds. The singers had big, confident voices and knew all the tricks to woo the crowd. When they hit the high notes just right, a smile couldn’t help but appear on my face.

An encore saw the group finish with all of the band members onstage, covering Taylor Swift’s mainstream song Shake It Off. At that moment, everyone was on their feet and couldn’t help dancing along to the big band sound.

Overall, PMJ were crowd-pleasing and very talented, to say the least. They also promised to come back to New Zealand on a tour, so if you missed out – there’s another chance!


AZARIA HOWELL is a huge politics nerd living in Christchurch. She also loves snowboarding, Beagles, and wearing clunky boots. You can follow her on Instagram and expect lots of new political articles on TEARAWAY!