With the musical stylings of a 20th century jazz and swing band, and the glitz and glam to match, Postmodern Jukebox is a roaring retro band on the surface. But upon further inspection, the songs the group performs are not vintage. They are modern hits from a wide variety of genres, rearranged and retrofitted to bump and sway like jazzy tunes from a bygone era.
The musical group, with a cast of rotating musicians and vocalists, will bring its popular performance to Chautauqua Institution at 8:15 p.m. tonight (June 28) in the Amphitheater, as a part of its Welcome to the Twenties 2.0 Tour.
Officially known as Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, the group got its start in 2010, when creator Scott Bradlee first brought a group of musicians together under the Postmodern Jukebox name. According to the group’s website, Bradlee founded the collective as a way to bring the sound and spirit of older music back into the mainstream.
The show that Postmodern Jukebox is bringing to Chautauqua is one aimed at ringing in the second coming of the 1920s with style. Bradlee said he hopes the new decade will bring with it a return to the style and quality of past generations.
In an interview with ticketing company AXS in 2017, Bradlee explained why he began arranging newer songs in an older style, and why he thinks people like it.
“People were always interested in hearing how the songs that they loved would sound in these earlier genres,” Bradlee said. “And I think that Postmodern Jukebox kind of taps into this nostalgia.”
Onstage, the members of Postmodern Jukebox don costumes reminiscent of jazz lounge singers or flamboyant flappers from the ’20s. The glamorous performers treat audiences to renditions of songs like “Feel it Still” by Portugal. The Man; “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee; and “Closer” by The Chainsmokers in styles completely unlike their original compositions.
Postmodern Jukebox found much of its early success online. The group’s YouTube channel has amassed over 4 million subscribers and 1.2 billion total views since its creation in 2008. Since the very first video, the group has brought musicians from all across the United States together under the same banner.
Speaking to Fine Magazine in 2015, Bradlee said he enjoys bringing the show to people around the world and giving Postmodern Jukebox performers a chance to shine.
“My goal right now is to bring the Postmodern Jukebox touring act to the entire world, so that everyone can get to experience it,” Bradlee said. “The show is just so fun — we tour with a dozen amazing musicians that really bring the arrangements to life, and I’m really passionate about sharing their talents with the world.”