All about the crowd
Despite its self-centered moniker, All About Me is really “all about” the audience
Some bands will abandon a show if they don’t get a good enough turnout. I’ve seen bands look out on a half-empty house and halfheartedly play three songs before throwing down their instruments and heading off to the bar to get drunk.
But imagine a band, despite a rather grim turnout, treating its audience of 12 as though it were a stadium of 5,000. They play for hours, finishing two sets consisting of 11 songs each. They do a couple of catchy cover songs and encourage the crowd to dance. To energize the listeners, the singer jumps up and down as the drummer sings along with the music, despite not having a microphone. The band makes it clear that they are a professional act, and their goal is entertaining their audience.
How ironic, then, that this describes a band called “All About Me.”
Actually, the name isn’t a description of the band’s mentality, but a broader social statement.
“It’s about selfishness,” explains guitarist and lead singer Monique Stanfield. “Not our selfishness, but the whole world’s selfishness.”
Clayton Stanfield, lead guitarist (and Monique’s brother), laughs.
“That’s really where it came from?” he asks. “I thought it was because it was all about you.”
Regardless of the implications of the name, All About Me writes songs with accessibility in mind. They describe their style as “alt-pop"—a normally senseless label that, in this case, is really pretty fitting. Their songs are filled with unusual modulations and chord structures reminiscent of such alternative bands as the Dismemberment Plan and P.J. Harvey. Clayton often quietly doubles the rhythm guitar for a while, then suddenly breaks into wailing, distorted leads over Monique’s tranquil acoustic strumming. Monique’s voice, on the other hand, is pure pop—when the music calls for it, she can sound convincingly like Shania Twain or Sheryl Crow. The effect of this blending of styles is a sound that’s pleasant without being too timid.
“This genre of music appeals to a much wider audience,” says drummer Mark Conrad.
All About Me is playing with a more diverse group in mind than most local bands; particularly, they don’t want to limit themselves exclusively to the younger concert-going crowd.
“I think our demographic’s older than most bands,” says bass player Dwayne Carroll.
“The last show we did was literally a beach full of people,” adds Conrad.
Clayton, Carroll and Conrad dress unpretentiously in grays and dark greens, visually blending into the background to allow Monique to shine. And shine she does. At a recent Harry’s Watering Hole show, she was decked out in a pink dress, with an extravagant pink hairstyle to match.
“This is my Gwen Stefani look,” she tells the audience. “My hair’s kind of flammable tonight.”
Above all, All About Me is a band whose members’ highest priority is putting on a great show.
“One of our big concerns is that you don’t really want to lull the audience,” says Conrad.
“I’m primarily interested in playing out live,” he says. “I’m a rocker at heart. I love rock music.”
The focus on performance pays off. All About Me is relaxed and very much in their element on stage. They have a feel for getting the audience involved in their shows. And if you never thought it would be possible to dance to a cover of the Simple Minds’ "Don’t You Forget About Me," well, now you know where to look.