What is the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus if not just a really, REALLY big boy band?
The members of the roughly 230-member ensemble certainly have the voices, moves and hairdos to match. That much is clear as they work their way through a slew of hits by pop history’s most female-scream-inducing male groups, from The Beatles to Boyz II Men, in their latest concert program, Heartthrobs: Biggest Boy Band Ever.
For those of us who can tear ourselves away from the big shindig going on at Civic Center this weekend, Heartthrobs is bound to be one of the highlights of Pride 2016.
The Boy band repertoire is a guilty pleasure for many, and this chorus truly knows how to milk a sappy lyric. The singers push One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” beyond the manufactured, and into the realms of the sighing-sweet. They have more fun with Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” than should be allowed, showing off not just their ability to convey the silly hedonism of the words (“I'm too hot (hot damn) / Called a police and a fireman”), but also some serious choreographic chops. You’re unlikely to see so many dudes move so well outside of a professional dance company.
Then there are some superb arrangements. In particular, Dave Caldwell’s gorgeous take on Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait,” with its mellifluous tinklings on the keys, plucks at more than piano strings. And in the second half of the program -- which (sort of disappointingly) moves away from the boy band theme and into more standard Gay Chorus repertoire of musical theater numbers and other tunes that register high on the sentimentality scale -- there’s Mitch Galli’s impressive, heavily a cappella version “It’s Raining Men.” Like some of the other numbers on the program, the song is performed by a smaller subset of the big choir.
The Nourse Theater isn’t a great place to hear vocal music. The proscenium, coupled with a poor sound system, muffles the power and clarity of the singing. This is the one thing that might stand in the way of a girl ripping off her panties and throwing them at the stage. Still, these heartthrobs certainly got me close.
Catch the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus in Heartthrobs: Biggest Boy Band Ever at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco on Saturday, Jun 25 at 2.30pm and 8.00pm.