Guitarists often change instruments during concerts for different tunings or because the one they've been using is starting to smell like wet dog. Soak in the sounds with this GrouponLive deal to see The FM Project – A Tribute to Steely Dan at Akron Civic Theatre. For $7, you get one ticket for cabaret-style, on-stage seating on Saturday, February 16, at 8 p.m. (a $15 value). Doors open at 7 p.m.
Listening to Steely Dan’s music is easy. Despite the cerebral and caustic lyrics, the funky sway of the seminal ‘70s jazz-rock outfit practically equips the ears with a smoking jacket and a dirty martini. But playing Steely Dan’s music is another matter altogether, no matter how skilled the musicians. Even the shortest and most seemingly relaxed hits in their canon, such as “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and “Reelin’ in the Years,” are wily beasts, sporting tricky time signatures, absurd dynamics, and a deli mound of vocals, keys, knuckle-buckling guitar heroics, and strutting bass lines. In Steely Dan’s heyday, the perfectionism of bandleaders (and only consistent members) Donald Fagen and Walter Becker exhausted stables of studio musicians and drove many engineers to guzzle tape-deck cleaning fluid. Eventually, the songs became so complex, even Steely Dan gave up touring for decades, remaining a studio-only outfit until 1993. The nine-piece tribute band The FM Project, named for the Dan’s liquor-cool ditty “FM (No Static at All),” has the talent and all types of brass to tackle the intricacy, mystique, and oeuvre of Steely Dan. The fine-tuned troupe, sporting 150 years of musical experience combined, goes deep undercover in its mission, learning entire albums front to back. For this intimate, cabaret-style show, the players execute a set of greatest hits before launching into the entirety of the 1977 masterwork Aja. Winner of the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording, Aja surrounds its seedy characters with a crystalline fortress of sound: the fugitive in opener “Black Cow” runs through yacht-lounging clavinet and electric piano, and the washed-up model in the subversive yet irrepressibly peppy hit “Peg” looks upward through bubbly bass and exuberant backing vocals.