Modern rockers Bluefish really went for a twist in deciding what band to cover at An Under Cover Weekend.
The eighth annual event, in which St. Louis area bands perform tribute sets of national acts, rolls out Friday and Saturday. Bluefish, originally from Wentzville, will perform a tribute set to Rihanna.
The seemingly crazy idea came from singer Brad Baker and drummer Cale Conrad.
“Personally, I was a little skeptical,” admits guitarist Ryan Ely. “There were some other bands we had in mind that fit our genre. But that would have been boring for us.”
Though Rihanna’s musical style differs from Bluefish’s, “she actually has some very impressive and catchy melodies,” Ely says. “We figure it’s really outside of what we’re used to playing and that we could really strip it down and make it our own.”
The band was attracted to Rihanna because her music is outside of their comfort zone, leaving lots of room to play around. Bluefish’s interpretations will keep the melodies of the original songs, Ely says, so they’ll be relatable to listeners at An Under Cover Weekend. But the tempos may vary.
He won’t reveal which of Rihanna’s songs the group will cover, but he says it’ll be the best of both worlds: a mixture of her upbeat songs and her ballads.
This is Bluefish’s second year participating in An Under Cover Weekend. Last year, the band performed the music of the Rat Pack, covering songs by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
“It went really well,” Ely says. “It was a fun experience — a way to step outside of our genre.”
The members of Bluefish — Ely, Baker, Conrad and bassist Peter Billing — met four years ago at Holt High School in Wentzville.
“We all became friends and then got into music at the same time, learning instruments and deciding to play together all through high school,” Ely says. Three of the four members are now UMSL students and have relocated to St. Louis.
Ely says Bluefish is often compared to the Killers, and sometimes Coldplay, two acts that have influenced the band’s sound.
“We’re just a little heavier, and we have a lot of singer-songwriter type songs too,” he says. “But the Killers — we like that. That’s the music we’re going for. The Killers is an awesome band.”
Bluefish wouldn’t mind covering the Killers at An Under Cover Weekend but says that isn’t possible. “It has been done recently, and there are rules that pertain to when you can do a band,” Ely says.
Two years ago, Bluefish released its debut EP “Shake the Dust,” and the group is working on the follow-up.
“We’re ready for it, though funding-wise we’re not ready. It’s not cheap to do this,” says Ely.
The creativity is there in full force, though.
“‘Shake the Dust’ was a lot more fast-paced; the new album we’re working on is a little quieter — slower,” he says. “We feel we’ve become better at what we do compared to where we were when we made the first album. We’re trying to change the sound a little bit — put a different twist on it.”
What An Under Cover Weekend Vol. 8 • When 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday • Where The Firebird, 2706 Olive Street • How much $10 • More info undercoverweekend.com