While DC’s go-go scene might not be as prominent as it used to be, it’s enjoyed a resurgence lately thanks to the Backyard Band’s cover of Adele‘s massively popular single, “Hello.”
The track is becoming inescapable in Washington, getting regular airplay on local radio stations, racking up nearly 300,000 YouTube views, and serving as the occasional bumper track on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. The song was also featured by WAMU’s Bandwidth and listed by Washington City Paper and BuzzFeed as one of the best go-go covers of pop songs ever made.
But the track wasn’t a calculated play to put DC’s native genre back on the map. It was literally pieced together overnight.
Tiffany White, one of Backyard Band’s lead singers and an avid Adele fan, says she approached her bandmates with the idea for the song around last November’s release of British singer’s album, 25.
“I like to touch on songs that I think no one would bother to cover,” she says, “I just wanted to take it to my band and say, ‘hey what do y’all think we can do with this?’ And they were with it. They’re always with it.”
The band listened to “Hello” during a rehearsal and started “messing around with it,” White says, trying out different tempos and cadences. Anwan “Big G” Glover, Backyard’s lead talker, realized it would make for a good cover.
“The beat was so funky,” he says. “Everybody was like, ‘oh, we feel it!’”
Backyard practiced the song one night and then played it live the next day. Midway through the performance, Glover, in typical go-go fashion, started shouting out different Washington neighborhoods, and White responded every time by singing out, “Hello”—a nuance the band stuck with in its later renditions.
Then Backyard threw the song out at the Howard Theatre’s “Mardi Gras” concert in December. The audience didn’t know it was coming, but gave it a rave response. So the band decided to make a cleaner studio recording, which they also put together in one session.
“We went to the studio and then the next morning it was everywhere in the city,” White says.
Glover says that while his band wasn’t thinking about how popular the song would be when they made it, the response gives them good exposure: “People are saying, ‘damn, that’s that kid from The Wire, oh my god, he’s in a band?’” — Glover is also known for his role as Slim Charles in David Simon’s HBO drama. “The popularity is coming and people have been able to see us more.”