Who's Bad lives up to its idol.
Upon its debut in 2004, Who’s Bad, the longest running Michael Jackson cover band, faced the immense pressure of simulating the vibrancy and look of the king of pop, Michael Jackson.
Since then, Who’s Bad has toured across the world, selling out massive venues in China and noteworthy stadiums like the London O2 Arena. However, the band will perform for any size audience, whether it is a sorority date night or an audience of 20,000 people.
Founder and saxophonist, Vamsi Tadepalli, described the forming of Who’s Bad as “really lucky” and “all music driven.”
The group originated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Tadepalli, similar to his fellow band members, has always had a high affinity for music.
“After Michael passed away, I had this idea of starting a cover band as I felt there was this need for more of his music. After our first performance, word spread quickly and things blew up,” Tadepalli said.
Although about half of the original members of Who’s Bad perform today, the group is always changing. Over the years it has used different front men and musicians as if they were interchangeable parts of a well-oiled machine.
“The mission is the same, everyone just jumps on the bandwagon,” Tadepalli said.
Who’s Bad has faced the pressure of paying tribute to Michael Jackson’s impeccable stage performances. However, they do not cater to any single audience.
“There’s absolutely a ton of pressure wherever we go, we focus a lot on the audience and making sure they’re engaged throughout the show,” Tadepalli said.
International fame has never been the ultimate goal for Who’s Bad, but it will go wherever it is called in hopes of sharing Michael Jackson’s music.
“China was pretty crazy. Of course there was the language barrier and the culture shock [for us] but they knew all the words and everything. It felt like any other show,” Tadepalli said.
On a smaller scale, Who’s Bad performed center stage for a sorority date night.
Courtney Patterson, a freshman statistics major from Augusta, was in that crowd.
“They were surprisingly really, really good. I was originally nervous about it being a cover band, but their energy was so awesome, definitely made me feel like I was in the 80’s,” Patterson said.
Who’s Bad proved their versatility as a band by undergoing both ends of the spectrum.
“We’ve done the van and trailer night after night performances, but we’ve also done the huge productions with dancers and what not. It’s all about consistently creating an organic energy,” Tadepalli said.
Rising above the attention and new found fame, the ultimate goal for Who’s Bad is to exhibit the music and life of Jackson with the same vigor that Jackson himself injected into his own performances.
“A lot of studying is involved. We try to model our show as a happy medium of a great stage performance and what someone would hear on the record,” Tadepalli said.
Who's Bad is a group of people united for one reason.
“I love Michael Jackson because his music was able to transcend three decades. He became a childhood star in the '70s, a national rock star in the '80s and an international icon in the '90s. Many artists are unable to escape from one genre and sound…Michael Jackson didn’t succumb to any parameters,” Cole Matarazzo, a sophomore psychology major from Key West, Fla., said.
What: Who's Bad
When: Jan. 10, 10 p.m.
Where: Georgia Theatre