Mesquite, NV - Jan-March 2013

360 Band - This 6 piece band (originally from the Philippine Islands) performs a wide range of music covering everything from swing era medleys right on through to today's pop culture hits. We enjoy live entertainment and have seen many live performances over the years to include venues from classical right on through to contemporary music. Jazz, soul, R&B, rock, disco and pop hits from the 50s through the 80s tend to be our musical favorites. The 360 Band performed their music so well I felt they deserved a dedicated review.

CasaBlanca's Skydome Lounge is where we've enjoyed the band's music on at least 6 occasions. The lounge's intimate setting is the perfect climate to listen to a band's music in full details. The members of the band cover keyboards, drums, bass guitar, lead/rhythm guitar and an extra percussion section. Four of the six members individually cover both lead and background vocals. They are also able to harmonize their vocals in 2,3 and 4 parts which adds significant impact to their sound. Singers EJ and Michelle also cover the extra percussion section when arrangements call for this. Given how the band makes use of their musical talents the listener will hear the following sound sources:

2 - Keyboards (two hands)
2 - Vocals and bass
3 - Vocals and extra percussion (two hands)
1 - Lead vocal
2 - Vocals and lead/rhythm guitar
4 - Drums (two hands & two feet)
14 - Total sound sources

More doesn't automatically make for better music, however. With multiple sound sources comes the challenges of arranging, layering, timing and balancing them together. We give the 360 Band very high marks for accomplishing this within the context of each arrangement they performed. No small feat given the wide range of music they are capable of performing. You would expect this from professional musicians but other bands we've heard don't have this wired as well as they should. Keep in mind that most audience members become familiar with music through studio recordings. The studio is a very different musical place than a live stage. Studio music is recorded in tracks, digitally enhanced then remixed later. Sound sources and arrangements can be worked with after the fact. A luxury that a band performing live music doesn't have. The tune must be correct as it's being played. There's no rewind or delete keys in a live performance. Bands playing live music thus compete with the studio arrangements that people are use to hearing. It ain't an easy job and some bands can't even perform their own music live. We know this from listening to many of Yes live in concert. For gigging bands, economics and practicality limit their size so these bands must use their instrumentation and personnel assets intelligently. This is best accomplished in the following ways: 1) Selecting tunes that are appropriate for a band's instrumentation 2) Having single musicians play an instrument while singing and 3) Arrange music to properly fit within the band's capabilities. The 360 Band did a superb job with all of this. The extra effort put into their music makes a HUGE positive difference for the listener.

One of the cardinal sins live bands commit is having their vocals get washed out with loud drums and poorly balanced instrumentation. Sadly this has been a common occurrence with many of the area's live bands we've heard. Boom boom and bang bang has its place but not on every tune. Especially when singing a love ballad that needs to convey feeling and emotion through expression and proper dynamic range. The 360 Band has paid close attention to this shortcoming and avoided this dilemma by working carefully with their microphones, amplifiers and drum kit. Our ears certainly appreciated being able to hear their vocals and have all the instruments play in proper proportions.

Lead vocals are very important and a prominent feature of any tune that includes vocals. Each of the four singers has their own unique style and each comes forward to showcase this as the band moves through its repertoire. Some of the more contemporary music we heard is vocalized better than the original artist's release. For example, the 360 Band's rendition of Bruno Mars tune "Just the Way You Are" was better than the original. Another important point, aside from being a professional musician, is being an entertainer. The band clearly has this ingredient and performs this way several novelty tunes to increase the level of enjoyment. Efforts are also made to get the audience involved which is good. And perhaps the most important thing you'll notice about this band is they all enjoy playing together. It's that important musical ingredient that isn't heard as much as it's felt.

If you have a chance to see and hear the 360 Band by all means go and enjoy their music. We did on many occasions and hope we have a chance to see them again soon. Anyone knowledgeable in this industry will tell you it's a tough business. Hats off to the members of the 360 Band for staying the course and providing quality live entertainment. Thank you all for being there and best wishes for keeping live entertainment alive and sounding great!

Evolve and simplify!
Scott Bridgman, Why not join and post your own comments?? (email me)