Radio Neon Graces Nardi’s With Glowing Performance

Jun 20, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

The little stage at Nardi’s Tavern takes “raising the roof” to new, literal heights. The platform sits just below the building’s low ceiling – so low, in fact, that tall performers leaping or pumping their fists risk sending their body parts right through the white paneling. The proportions give off a comically deceptive effect; musicians appear almost giant between stage and ceiling. But Radio Neon, the bar’s featured band last Saturday evening, didn’t seem to have any issues finding some dance and wiggle room among the clutter of their instruments and confines of the space.

Ashley Curcio wore black Converse, a white tank top and black, lacy tights under a pair of black shorts. Animated and smiling, leaning over the bar to order a pre-show beer, she might have been mistaken for a disillusioned newbie, fresh to the music industry and innocent to its hurts and hurdles. Curcio is anything but. The vocalist is simply pure energy, her aura matched only by the shimmering blue eye shadow decorating her lids.

Radio Neon was launched three years ago by Curcio and her husband, Perry Curcio, who plays bass and lends his vocals for the occasional Journey hit. The name came to fruition while the group sat brainstorming in their agent’s office. After settling on the “radio” portion of the name, they tossed around ideas for the second half until their agent made an observation regarding the lead singer’s “colorful personality.” Neon seemed an accurate descriptor. Thus Radio Neon was born.

The band members of Radio Neon know the meaning of balance. When they’re not on stage, guitarist Hugh Feely and drummer Bobby Valeno are full-time students. Curcio herself is a social worker and her husband is a pharmacy tech, writing original music in what little spare time he can find. But these days, as parents of a 1½-year-old son, the Curcios find moments of leisure are fewer and farther between.

“It’s really tough. We’re getting home at 6 a.m. tomorrow and he wakes up at 7:30 a.m., so it’s gonna be a tough one,” said Curcio before getting on stage for their first set.

Based on their performance, you wouldn’t know the bandmates are spread so thinly. Though the aforementioned dimensions of the bar’s stage threatened to inhibit their performance, the two Curcios, Feely and Valeno played a roof-raising act, ripping solos, belting classics and interacting with a sunburnt crowd.

The dance floor was flooded with vacationers and bachelorette parties within minutes of Radio Neon’s first set. Enlivened by the sing-alongs, attendees danced and sloshed their drinks onto themselves and the floor as if their limbs were controlled by some other-worldly force. The vitality of the crowd was a contagion spreading into every corner of the bar, summoning drinkers toward the dance floor.

“We try to stay fast-paced at all times. We try to keep the beat up to keep everybody moving, so we’ll go from new stuff then jump into some ’90s, some country, and then we typically end each set with a rock ’n’ roll song,” said Curcio.

Her voice has a refreshing, youthful timbre. Her tone is Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott with a sprinkle of Cyndi Lauper, mirroring that same songbird-like pitch. The true strength of her vocals, however, lies in their versatility. A chameleon with a microphone, she changes color to fit the vocal styles of each genre and decade in Radio Neon’s expansive repertoire. Her bandmates are no exceptions to the versatility, each one integral to the group’s shape-shifting performances. An impressive medley was “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight” by The Outfields, blended with Karmin’s “Brokenhearted.” Another mash-up fused Cheap Trick and the Backstreet Boys.

“We like to put on ‘our’ show, so we do what feels good to us. I’m constantly moving on stage, and we are cutting up tunes and medleying tunes to keep a high-energy environment at all times. Hugh adds extra guitar parts to give some extra pizazz,” said Curcio.

The group worked harmoniously from cover to cover, one moment Elle King’s “Ex’s & Oh’s,” the next moment a twangy Luke Bryan hit. Their transitions were so smooth that every song blended subtly into the next.

“I love that every night is a new adventure.,” Curcio said. “People are out vacationing, and they just want to have a good time. So we want to give them the absolute best time they can have, and obviously make new friends and fans!”

Curcio’s goals for the band are short, sweet, simple: to continue performing, but only at the rate at which they can maintain a positive, fun attitude. “I found that when we were playing 12 to 20 shows a month, it became more of a job, and I wasn’t enjoying it, so now we play less but love what we do. I hope to continue growing our name and dive into more corporate and wedding gigs.”

Among her musical inspirations are Jennifer Nettles, Miranda Lambert and Pink, while her husband’s are Rush, Journey and Pearl Jam. When asked if she’d be passing the microphone along to her son one day, Curcio was hopeful. “I won’t push Cam into anything music related, but if he’s interested, I’ll definitely love it! I’m hoping he wants to play piano.”

For more information on Radio Neon and for a glimpse of their summer schedule, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/rnband/.

— Sarah Hodgson

 

 

Set list Snippet:

“I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight,” The Outfields

“Shape of You,” Ed Sheeran

“Brokenhearted,” Karmin

“Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams

“Valerie,” Amy Winehouse

“Country Girl,” Luke Bryan

“I Love Rock N’ Roll,” Joan Jett

“I Want You to Want Me,” Cheap Trick

“Hey Jealousy,” Gin Blossoms

“Just a Girl,” No Doubt

“Get Lucky,” Daft Punk  

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