ANDY MCKEE 9 p.m., Juanita's. $12 adv., $15 d.o.s.
He's the Steve Vai of the YouTube generation. Or maybe the Internet's update on Dick Van Dyke's one-man orchestra act as Bert in Mary Poppins. Regardless, it's an impressive sight to see Andy McKee poke metal harmonics out of his guitar while simultaneously weaving classical melodies with whatever free fingers he has left and thumping his chest as a backing beat. So impressive, in fact, that the homemade videos on YouTube that propelled him to overnight celebrity have been viewed over 53 million times — and that's just the tally for his three most popular ones. His ability to walk the fine line between “technically marvelous” and, well, “listenable” sets him apart from other instrumental braggarts; his covers, from Toto's “Africa”
to Bjork's “Venus as a Boy”
are terrific interpretations of familiar tracks, but his originals (especially “Drifting”
and “Art of Motion,”
two that popularized him) are able to stand alone as the deftly scored, expansive tracks they are. Yet what's really fascinating about this guy is that the bulk of his fans are surprisingly young; you'd expect them to scoff at the music as Weather Channel noise. But judging from the number of Andy McKee cover videos uploaded to the web by anxious young classicists tackling his multi-tasking, polyrhythmic sounds, there may be real hope yet for real life Guitar Heroes like this guy.