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The Updogs rekindle spirit of rock ‘n’ roll

Julie Bender | Thursday, March 24, 2005

People used to live, breathe and bleed rock ‘n’ roll. There was a time when rock music was at the forefront of existence, causing generational divisions and stirring social movements along the way. Music used to be more than just entertainment – it used to matter. These days, fans are hard-pressed to find that former passion for rock. The best music out there is heard in small clips on Cadillac and Buick commercials. If you are lucky enough to see a band’s reunion tour, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of what rock used to be. But even the concert experience has been soured with $65 price tags, compared with Woodstock’s original $7 admission. Discouraging though the times may be – especially for those of us born a generation too late – there are moments now and then when the original spirit of rock is resurrected. One of these moments was Friday night. With Reckers as a venue, friends, fans, family members and a few hangers-on gathered to experience a campus cover band known as The Updogs. Comprised of five musicians originally from Zahm Hall – Chris Davis on lead guitar, Joe Harris on bass, Jon Jahr on keyboards, Kyle Chong on percussion and Drew Updike on lead vocals – The Updogs played a set list eclipsing the best of the decades from the 1960s up to the present. Scheduled to begin at 10 p.m., the band warmed up for 25 minutes before catapulting into their opener, AC/DC’s “You Shook Me.” Raw energy radiated from the stage as Davis tore into the famous Angus Young riff, and that energy never let up once during the non-stop set of guitar-driven rock. Next on the list was an early Who song, “I Can’t Explain,” which saw Updike do his best Pete Townsend windmill impressions on air guitar. Luckily for the audience, however, no instruments were destroyed in the typical “Who” fashion this early in the evening.The third song of the night brought the band into their element with The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues.” Strutting the stage like a young Jim Morrison, Updike proved a magnetic stage presence with the band musically countering his every dip and dive. The group’s exuberance was contagious, and the audience became the necessary sixth man of the band, singing and dancing to the driving rhythm.For nearly two hours, the band continued in this manner, tearing through the likes of The Five-Man Electrical Band, The Kingsmen, Jon Bon Jovi, Journey and Led Zeppelin. More recent bands were not ignored as the group touched on the latest garage rock sounds of The Strokes and Jet. Closing the night, the band played the classic, “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” sung by Bob Seger. The lyrics, “Today’s music ain’t got the same soul / I like that old time rock ‘n’ roll,” never rang truer as the audience, pulled from their seats, demanded an encore presentation. Though mildly unprepared for such enthusiasm, the band responded with the ever-appropriate “Piano Man.” Jahr’s keyboards set the mood, and the band followed suit for the evening’s final number. And, right there, as the last notes faded out, with the band and the fans linking arms and swaying to this classic sing-a-long, for a moment the missing element of rock ‘n’ roll was found, just one more time.