After months of the dulcet and rather pensive blues artist Clark Beckham and the lounge vibes of pianist Eli Teplin, Dubai music venue Q's Bar and Lounge has a pop group on its stage for the next two months.
This is not pop in the style of the inane tunes clogging up local radio, however. American band The Strike, currently in the midst of their Dubai residency until May 12, are a throwback to when "pop" wasn't a dirty word in music.
Listening to the quintet last week, they explore three decades of pop, ranging from early Michael Jackson to Tears for Fears, Lionel Richie and John Mayer.
While the performances are loose and vibrant, they are still delivered with the authority of veterans.
As frontman Chris Crabb explains, it stems from their love for 1970s jazz-pop giants Steely Dan, who are renowned for their pristine recordings.
"I know a lot of times that band gets a lot of flak," he says. "But you are talking to a bunch of guys who studied in musical school and are professional musicians. So of course we are going to love a band like Steely Dan. If we are going to lay down a part that's smooth, we will do that. We don't see the need to grit something up just for the sake of it."
The group's perfectionism has landed them some plum gigs over the years, such as supporting the likes of pop star Kelly Clarkson, soul singer Macy Gray and soft rockers Journey. Their own original tunes and arrangements have also been licensed to high-profile television talent shows including America's Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars.
The entertainment capital of Los Angeles, where they are presently based, is a far cry from their beginnings six years ago in American state Utah, which is viewed as the centre of the Christian religious and cultural tradition of Mormonism.
“Three of the guys in the band are Mormon and I was raised a Mormon,” Crabb says.
“Now, Mormon culture is quite musically ambitious, with a lot of piano, violin and singing lessons... It is through music and the arts where a lot of Mormons look for creative outlets. I think this is probably where our perfectionism comes from.”
After moving to Los Angeles, The Strike embraced its heady music scene and ample performance opportunities. The group built a big enough following to warrant going into the studio to record their debut album.
Released last year, Faint of Heart is full of big, ebullient pop tunes tailor-made for a summer drive along the beachfront. The album's title track in particular is a winner, with its cool synthwave stylings and anthemic
"The song is basically about being too scared or shy to do something," Crabb says. "It does have a bit of a romantic bent to it. A lot of people get insecure when it comes to love, me included, and this song is about that encouragement to take that step and take things to the next level."
This brings us back to Dubai. Their residency so far has been successful, and Crabb says that their UAE debut will forever remain a milestone for the group because it is their first professional association with Quincy Jones – the legendary producer hand picks all the acts performing in Q's.
In announcing The Strike as the new resident act, Jones hailed the group as “the real deal. These are the exact types of musicians we need at the forefront, and they know how to do it right.”
Crabb says that the band are chuffed to even make it on to Jones's radar.
"It's amazing, man, because we didn't meet him yet," he says. "People from his team came to hear us and they recommended us to him. Next thing you know, we got this offer to come to Dubai and we just said yes, and it has been really amazing so far."
The Strike perform at Q's Bar and Lounge at Palazzo Versace Dubai, Tuesday to Saturday, until May 12. Doors open at 7pm. For reservations,
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