Backyard Band’s Adele Cover Is Putting Go-Go Back In The Spotlight

By Ally Schweitzer

D.C. go-go ensemble Backyard Band has found new listeners with a recent cover of Adele's hit "Hello."
D.C. go-go ensemble Backyard Band has found new listeners with a recent cover of Adele's hit "Hello." Mitchcraft

Go-go hasn’t seen much national attention since the days of E.U.’s “Da Butt,” but D.C.’s Backyard Band is changing that with its recent cover of Adele’s “Hello.”

Backyard’s cover has been on the rise for more than a month now, gaining radio play and a spot on The Fader‘s list “11 Songs You Need In Your Life This Week.”

The band’s lead talker, Anwan “Big G” Glover, says the cover has been an enormous hit with live audiences, too.

“Oh man,” Glover says in a phone call. “You gotta see it. They cry. They singing with it, and they be so loud with it.” (He’s not exaggerating — check out the video of Backyard knocking out “Hello” at Howard Theatre last month, below.)

On the track’s recorded version, vocalist Tiffany “Sweet Thing” Monroe delivers a masterful performance on par with the English singer’s original. But Backyard doesn’t strive to be that faithful, Glover says. Their version is definitely steeped in go-go.

“We just created a whole new sound,” Glover says. “Once that beat dropped in, it was just crazy with the cowbell… when we got onstage and played it, I started calling out the crews with it. When Tiffany started saying, “Hello!” on the break, then I just said ‘Southside, uptown…’ It was crazy, man.”

But while Backyard’s cover has earned them new fans, Glover says it’s also generated mild controversy in town. Some listeners and musicians have criticized go-go bands’ emphasis on cover songs, rather than originals, and publicity over Backyard’s version of “Hello” has heightened that criticism.

“A lot of the old-school bands really are not too cover-friendly, and we’re getting a lot of backlash over it. But it’s good backlash,” Glover says. Why? “Because everybody has Backyard on their tongue right now,” he says.

If momentum stays strong, he says the band might even try to team up with Adele when she plays D.C.’s Verizon Center in October.

“That would be crazy for us to it with her — to do it at the Verizon Center live with her,” Glover says. He suspects the pop star might be open to the idea. “It seems like she’s a very sweet lady. I seen her on Instagram yesterday singing a Nicki Minaj song… I was like, ‘Aw, look at Adele, she’s rocking that, man.'”

Sharing a stage with Adele wouldn’t be Glover’s only high-profile appearance this year. An actor who’s played roles on TV series The Wire and Treme, plus acclaimed film 12 Years A Slave, he recently wrapped up a pilot for HBO. Glover plays a character named Leon on The Deuce, a gritty-sounding series from David Simon and George Pelecanos. But he doesn’t plan to move to New York or L.A. anytime soon.

“I fly back and forth because I don’t like to miss stage time with Backyard, and my band needs me and my city needs me,” Glover says.

The talker says Backyard Band has new, original material in the works, including the latest version of their long-running “Dope Jam” series.

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