When the idea of a Star Trek tribute band gets posed, many of us, Trekkers or not, instantly get weary. For those of us within the Trek persuasion, the initial reaction is usually apprehension. Ours is a beloved fandom, not to be taken lightly. Those outside the Trek-verse are equally (if not more) disquieted by the idea. Philadelphia-based multi-media tribute band The Roddenberries put each and every doubt to sleep.
This is not your mother’s Star Trek-tribute band. The remarkably built 10-piece is tight—like Chick Corea, Weather Report tight. Balancing the nuances of cabaret and fan-tribute band beautifully, their music is accompanied by an interactive screen positioned behind them, giving audiences a wide range of exciting and hilarious visual stimulation. With covers of fan favorites like the theme from “Amok Time” and “The Inner Light,” a moving piece originally played by Patrick Stewart on Star Trek: The Next Generation, revamped by the group’s own Sister Spock, the tribute aspect is clear. The Wid spins lyrical brilliance in his cover songs, converting standards like “That’s Life” into “That’s Space” as he tosses little balls of fur into the crowd. “Tribbles,” he says with a giggle and a wink. And not to alienate the Star Wars fans, the band concludes with the ever-popular song from the film’s famous cantina scene, inviting audience members to get up and dance.
The Roddenberries, along with special guests Warp Drive—featuring members of the legendary Klingon Klezmer—will bring their Halloween Spook-tacular to Underground Arts this Sunday, Oct. 27. Set phasers to fun, bring your towel, and don’t forget to let the Wookie win.
The group’s manager and member, Beth Kellner, also known as Sister Spock, explains the method behind their extremely well-orchestrated madness.
Can you describe the show in your own words?
It’s difficult to define us, but if I had to at phaser-point, I’d have to say that the Roddenberries set out to be a “Star Trek band”–whatever that meant—and quickly morphed into a “Star Trek multimedia sci-fi rock cabaret” and continues to transform. We try and give people performance: Trek, with some unexpected stuff you may think you know, but in ways you’ve never seen it before. We’re also working on branching out and doing wedding and convention gigs, too.
What was your inspiration for this project?
Our members have had varying degrees of Trek-love. I dreamed with college friends back at Rutgers of having a Star Trek band, and we knew all the songs but never made it out of the basement. Sister Spock was born of my first Late Night Cabaret open-stage performance, wherein I got some friends together to do some Trek music. Bill & Joe Tayoun have always also had a life-time love affair with Star Trek, and have been playing Trek music together for years. Two years ago at the Late Nite Cabaret, they did an open jam with our drummer, Hoagy Wing, and played the full-length “Amok Time” fight theme–which went over huge with the crowd. In a way, the Rods were born that night. Scott Johnston has also loved Trek and performance art all his life. Bill, Scott and I started talking about getting something together, and from there, we grabbed Hoagy, Ned, Chris and Andrew and just started jamming and coming up with ideas. Ray Long recently joined us as our horn section and adds a whole new layer of fabulous to the band. We love Star Trek and the music, and we wanted to not only be in a Star Trek band, but also create something fun and unique that we would want to go and see.
How else has Gene Roddenberry influenced your life?
I think Gene Roddenberry taught us all about acceptance, unity, camaraderie, equality. It’s a wonderful utopian democratic society in Trek, and we can all learn from Roddenberry’s model and hopefully strive to be more like the crew of the Enterprise. We love him so much, we named our band after him!
In hand-to-hand combat, who wins: Kirk or Picard?
Hands down, Kirk. He’d drop-kick Picard while Picard was trying to reason with him not to fight, and it’d be over just like that.
Doors at 6pm; show starts at 7. $5 with costume, $10 without. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St. undergroundarts.org