JOPLIN, Mo. —
Kristi Siebert had an “absolutely incredible time” the last time she heard Members Only. It was for Hooked on Dance, a fundraiser in Springfield for the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.
When it was time to set up a similar gala in Joplin, Siebert didn’t think twice about who to call.
“Since that show, they’ve become quite popular,” Siebert said of the band. “They play at Downstream from time to time. They are a quality band and will put on a great show, and that’s important for a fundraiser of this magnitude.”
Members Only, an ’80s tribute band, will perform live at the foundation’s Pink Ribbon Gala, set for tonight at Downstream Casino. The band plays a wide range of songs from the ’80s, from Michael Jackson to Motley Crue.
They will headline a gala event that features live and silent auctions, dinner, drinks, door prizes and more.
The six musicians that comprise Members Only make no bones about their love of the ’80s. That decade saw an explosion of music in many different genres, including rock, pop, electronic and all sorts of crossovers.
“That decade laid the foundation for modern music in many ways,” said guitarist Seth Jaeger. “Electronic, hip-hop, the decade was full of things that were transformative for society. Whatever your taste was in music, you could find it.”
The band is the brainchild of singer Brent Thornton and drummer Justin Gabossi, Jaeger said. They came up with the concept and the initial playlists in 2008.
“They knew that this was great party music, and people wanted to hear it,” Jaeger said. “It was a chain reaction from there.”
Thornton said he doesn’t listen to today’s music, or anything from the ’90s or 2000s. But the 1980s is compelling to him for more than just the musical variety. Born in 1980, he was inspired by Poison’s “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” as well as Prince, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Journey and others.
“The music was unlike anything else,” Thornton said. “Not just the music, but what they wore is completely different. Even though glam got started before the ’80s, it took off then.”
Initially the band played the big monster songs that everyone recognized, eschewing B-sides and sticking with songs in Thornton’s range.
Now the band works a packed schedule around the Ozarks and Four State Area. They appear regularly at Downstream Casino and performed last week at the Kitchen Pass.
The effort the band puts into its image is apparent: Wearing pastels, band T-shirts from the era, spikes, tight pants, Vans and mullets (or long hair), the band looks the part. Keyboardist Will Clark plays a keytar and uses another keyboard on a stand that allows full rotation.
“(The keytar) is the signature instrument, aesthetically and philosophically,” Jaeger said. Bassist Sam Adkins and guitarist Zach McClease round out the lineup.
They’ve also put plenty of work into the sound. Though the band is, at its core, a rock band that handles songs such as “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Living on a Prayer” with an authentic metal flourish, they also play pop favorites such as “Billie Jean,” “Faith,” “Take on Me” and “Kiss” faithfully.
The music and stage presence makes for a band that fans love to watch, Jaeger said Ñ mainly because the ’80s aren’t so distant.
“I think we’ve been incredibly lucky,” Jaeger said. “We hit at an interesting time. There are those who were there in the ’80s, and those who want to live in the parties of the ’80s. There’s something about this music, where people want to rock to it, and we can do that. We feed off the energy of the crowd.”
Siebert, the outreach director for Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, said the group’s reach extends throughout more than 30 counties in the Four State Area.
The group provides client services to patients with breast cancer, from preventive measures such as mammograms to assisting patients with basic needs. The group spent more than $112,000 on patients in 2011 Ñ $43,982 of that was for patients in Jasper County.
Tonight’s gala is the first such event held in Joplin, where Siebert lives. She hopes to raise around $90,000 with tonight’s event.
“This will be the second largest fundraiser that the foundation does,” Siebert said. “Our needs have skyrocketed in the last couple of years, mainly because we’re more known and the needs have gotten greater.”