Eighties Cover Band Rubix Kube Transports and Transforms


(Image courtesy of Jason Adam Photography)


The musicians of Rubix Kube have already launched into a punching rock progression on stage, while frontwoman Cherie Martorana Neve pulls on a pair of mixed print stiletto boots over her sequined leg warmers in the wings. She hypes up the crowd as she puts the finishing touches on her outfit, calling out into an off-stage microphone. Martorana fist bumps frontman Scott Lovelady, a regular pre-show ritual, before the pair run on stage to an audience clad in neon eyeliner and Men at Work costumes.

Rubix Kube is an ‘80s tribute band that not only pays homage to some of the most famous artists, songs, and genres of the decade, but embodies the unforgettable personalities and transcendent music. Since their formation in 2007, Rubix Kube has transported and invigorated audiences of sold out shows across the country. In 2009, many of the band’s members were able to quit their day jobs, and have since been joined on stage by ‘80s stars like Tiffany and Rick Springfield. Tonight, I join them.

It’s the band’s first show of the year in their hometown of New York City, and the first show for new bassist P.J. Farley, who is the second member of the hard rock band Trixter to join Rubix Kube. Farley joins the band in wake of the loss of David Z, the band’s former bassist who passed away in July 2017.

Flashes of retro paraphernalia in the form of music video cuts, film clips and wistful photos are projected behind a stage filled with 1980s memorabilia. An eight foot tall “Stay Puft” Marshmallow Man, a dozen vintage lunch boxes and plush Gremlin dolls are among the nostalgic props packed on stage. Even the amps are evocative of the ‘80s, decorated in the style of the group’s eponymous Rubik’s Cube. The band, all sporting vintage threads and outrageous wigs, commands the audience a la Bon Jovi to “Raise Your Hands” with their opening song, and the audience readily complies.

Lovelady and Martorana, the alternating lead singers, don’t just cover the classic tunes; they become the artists that made them famous. Each new character fittingly steps onstage from the lifesize “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” phone booth/time-machine, sporting legendary looks from each artist they impersonate. Lovelady’s strength is his physical impersonation of each superstar, manifesting Michael Jackson’s isolated dance moves, a Paul Simon and Chevy Chase blend of endearing awkward movements for “You Can Call Me Al,” and David Lee Roth’s kick splits in Van Halen’s “Jump.” Meanwhile Martorana is a genius in her vocal imitations, echoing Madonna’s bright and almost nasal mezzo-soprano in a “Holiday/Into the Groove” mashup, Cher’s smoky folk in “Turn Back Time” and even James Durbin’s stentorian gravel in Quiet Riot’s “Cum on Feel the Noize.”

While they manifest the larger-than-life personalities of the ‘80s, each member of Rubix Kube is a larger-than-life personality themselves, especially Martorana. The group’s frontwoman shines through whatever costume or wig she’s wearing with a palpable energy that borders on ecstatic hysteria, proving she’s a star by her own right.

In addition to Martorana’s stand out performance, the band itself is full of uncharted rockstars. Playing the decade’s classics is sure to excite concert-goers due to the sheer nostalgia factor, illustrated by the audience’s immediate cheers to the opening riffs and chords of every familiar song. Nonetheless, Rubix Kube is undoubtedly good and exhibits musical poweress. It is the mastery of Steve Brown (guitar), PJ Farley (bass), Michael Ghegan (saxophone), John Laspina (drums), Mike Pex (keys/keytar) and Greg Reigle (bass/guitar) that drive home the band’s savvy. Each instrumentalist has just as much fun as Lovelady and Martorana, participating in costume changes, “Footloose” kicklines, and soul-shaking solos throughout.

It is precisely this combination of raw talent and charisma, along with the feast of visual and audible throwback, that place Rubix Kube at the forefront of New York City’s music scene, and has allowed the band to prosper for over a decade. “The ‘80s Strike Back” is a transportive and transformative show, turning the Gramercy Theater into a cathedral for one of the most beloved decades of the 20th century. While unapologetically and joyously celebrating music that brings people together, Rubix Kube elicits a paradox: making something that is defined by its time, timeless.

Rubix Kube returns to New York City on April 7 at Ulysses’ Folk House.With $17 general admission tickets and no food/drink minimum, the band’s anticipated return to their home city is an affordable anomaly in the city for college students. Spend Saturday night beating the post-spring-break-slump by time traveling and moonwalking with Michael Jackson reincarnate, the Moon Man and Rubix Kube.



Featured image courtesy of Jason Adam Photography