An Ultimate Michael Jackson tribute concert performed by Who’s Bad will be hosted at Greenville’s Toyota Amphitheatre at the Town Commons this evening at 6 p.m.
The concert is the fourth installment of the Concert on the Commons series taking place this summer. The free concert draws in roughly 1,000 to 3,000 people each show according to Hank Hinton, Vice President of Inner Banks Media, whom the show partners with.
“Inner Banks Media books the bands, pays the expenses and organizes all facets of the concert series,” Hinton said. “We partner with the city and the Junior League of Greenville, a local charity in town.
Hinton said last year Inner Banks Media booked three concerts for the series and since they all went well, this year they decided to expand the series to five shows.
They booked two of the three bands from last year who brought in good crowds. The bands they brought back were The Embers, Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band and On the Border: The Ultimate Eagles Tribute.
“We pick bands we feel like would draw a big crowd to the Town Commons, but we also kept in mind we want to bring in a diverse crowd and we feel like with the series there has been something for everybody,” Hinton said.
Hinton recommends bystanders to come at 5:30 p.m. to set up chairs and get a good spot for the show. He said last performance on May 22 with Legacy Motown Revue brought the largest crowd they’ve had yet, and the shows are sure to keep growing. The next concert will the Ultimate Eagles tribute on June 19.
Vamsi Tadepalli is the founder, owner, manager and a former member of Who’s Bad. He started the band right out of college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 15 years ago, played in it as a saxophonist for eight years and has spent the last seven years managing and growing the band on each coast while managing from Los Angeles.
“The cool thing about Michael Jackson’s music is it’s really timeless and what we noticed over the last fifteen years, especially after he died, that his music really does attract everyone from all different demographics, ages and races,” Tadepalli said. “The show caters to everyone and that’s the beauty of his music.”
Tadepalli said, while the band was playing shows in China, such as Hong Kong last year, everyone there may have not spoken English, but they knew the songs. The band has also performed in Europe, South America and Saudi Arabia. For this show, it will be a five-piece band and a lead singer staging as Michael Jackson.
“I think these guys put on a great show and I think it’s going to be one of the most unique shows that you’ll see in Greenville this year,” Hinton said.
Tadepalli said he came up with the idea for Who’s Bad because he wanted to create one with a horns section and while playing, he noticed he played quite a few Michael Jackson songs. The idea sprung since no one else at the time was doing anything like it that was “all Michael.”
According to Tadepalli, now the band plays roughly 120 shows a year and every member is a full-time musician.
“‘Smooth Criminal’ is always the fun one to perform and our singer, James (Times III), kills ‘Billie Jean’ and that’s a crowd favorite as well,” Tadepalli said.
As for food and beverage for the Wednesday night event, Hinton said beer and wine will be available for sale to those of age by Coastal Beverage and Pitt Street Brewing Company. He said that there will be three food trucks as well as a Kona Ice truck.
Charlotte Cain, a senior hospitality management major at ECU, said she loves going to the Town Commons concert with her friends.
“Me and my friends love going to the concerts at Town Commons because in the middle of a long week, it’s always so fun to get outside and listen to great bands. It’s a different experience in Greenville and and it’s great to see a lot of people coming out to support,” Cain said. “I also love all the vendors from around town with their food and drinks.”