Arts & Entertainment

Legwarmers: State Theatre Sensation

Local Fans Flock for 80s Cover Band

For some, the word “legwarmers” triggers images of circa-1981 songbird Olivia Newton John singing about getting “physical.” But for hundreds of concert-goers who’ve flooded Falls Church’s State Theatre on numerous occasions in the last year or so, The Legwarmers are no 80s fashion statement. They’re the for-real, blast-from-the-past local 80s cover band charming the sweat bands off soccer moms and 20-something-year-old “bros” alike.915legwarmers

 

 

Local Fans Flock for 80s Cover Band

For some, the word “legwarmers” triggers images of circa-1981 songbird Olivia Newton John singing about getting “physical.” But for hundreds of concert-goers who’ve flooded Falls Church’s State Theatre on numerous occasions in the last year or so, The Legwarmers are no 80s fashion statement. They’re the for-real, blast-from-the-past local 80s cover band charming the sweat bands off soccer moms and 20-something-year-old “bros” alike.

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SELLING OUT THE STATE THEATRE in Falls Church on a regular basis, The Legwarmers are proving that for some, the 80s never died. (Photo: Julie Socher)

The idea was conceived in May 2001, when 30-year-old Matt Kelly and Jorge Pezzimenti, 31, decided to turn their once joked-about plan to “form an 80s cover band and call it something funny like ‘The Legwarmers’” into, well, a reality. Fellow music enthusiast Curtis Reaves had just purchased a Simmons electronic drum kit, the instrument of choice for many 80s musicians, and the rest is history.

The band performed its first live show at a house party across the street from Kelly’s former residence in Arlington, though the music was cut short when cops busted up the shenanigans for not adhering to noise level standards as the band blasted out Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”

“It was straight out of a John Hughes movie, where the cops barge in to tell us our music is too loud,” said a nostalgic Kelly.

Band member additions came with time, as Kelly and company scored gigs at the State Theatre, Baltimore’s Rams Head Live, and will soon be branching out to Philadelphia.

Now a full-fledged, eight-member band — each with their own persona (Kelly as “Cru Jones,” Pezzimenti as “Gordon Gartell,” Reaves as “Lavaar Huxtable,” Todd Harris as “Chet Reno,” Erin Bamford as “Rikki,” H.T. Gold as “J.R. PI” and Kelly Landers as “Cyndi Sindee”) — the faces behind the 80s musical sensation range in age from 30 to 35, the bracket in which many, though not all, of their fans seem to fall.

A first-time Legwarmers fan, 33-year-old Erin Malawer of McLean, called a recent State Theatre concert “unbelievably fun” in a post-concert interview with the News-Press, noting that she and her friends plan to attend again when the band returns for an area-friendly encore.

“I couldn’t stop singing along. I kept waiting for a so-so song so I could use the bathroom, but it never happened,” said Malawer, who was smitten by the fact she actually spotted someone dressed as Rainbow Brite.

Kelly said this is the exact experience he and his band mates strive to create for fans, many of whom arrive mimicking band members by dressing the part from head to toe, neon sunglasses and all. He embraces the fact that the shows have become a prime girl’s-night-out soirée.

“I think girls, at the risk of unintentional offense, are always looking for a reason to dress up. So, we see a lot of bachelorette parties and moms out on the town, taking a break from the kids,” said Kelly, whose own stepsister, with kids of her own, admits to singing along to songs she grew up listening to.

However, girls aren’t the only ones who just want to have fun.

Protik Majumdar, 36, was spotted with an entourage of “bros” leaning up against the wall outside the State Theatre waiting to get in, where they planned on meeting co-workers inside, a mix of males and females. This being his first Legwarmers experience, though vowing to return, Majumdar called the concert a “little something different” than the average Friday night out.

“I got to drink and dance, which can happen anytime, but the added nostalgia contributed something new to the buzz,” said Majumdar.

Proving booze isn’t the best weekend medicine for everyone, one drunk fan at a previous State Theatre show managed to get onstage, giving Kelly the surprise — and beat down — of his life.

“She came up onstage with this really weird look her in eye, and you could tell she wasn’t going to be content in coming up there just to do the worm,” said Kelly, who then recalled being blindsided by fist punches to the stomach from the crazed female fan … as he shredded the chords to Journey’s “Separate Ways,” of course.

But just as male fans can match the ladies’ enthusiasm, they can also even the score when it comes to lewd behavior. The soundtrack satire proved comical once again, when two guys broke out into a fist fight during Madonna’s “Material Girl.”

“That’s probably the last song [during which] two bros want to go at it,” said Kelly.

Despite a few instances of intoxication gone awry, The Legwarmers still manage to attract even the most wholesome of fans, including moms Sharalyn Hoffman, 40, and 33-year-old Melissa Rosen, who waited outside the venue last month to hear the band perform for the first time.

“I think this is probably a little more appropriate for our age group. Some of the clubs in D.C. can get a little trendy,” said Rosen of Arlington, who was there with Hoffman and their two husbands.

Beside them, ironically, stood a group of the aforementioned trendy type, females all looking to be in their 20s, giggling at each other’s over-the-top outfits, perhaps proving that maybe, just maybe, The Legwarmers are on to something — 80s music really can bring us all together.

Said best in the words of Malawer, “That’s rad.”

• The Legwarmers perform at the State Theatre Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11.