Fresh off a performance at Austin’s SXSW music festival, indie darlings Leftover Cuties will perform at the College of DuPage March 21 and 22.
Performing songs from their new release, “The Spark & the Fire,” the jazz-pop group will perform at 8 p.m. both days in the McAninch Arts Center’s Playhouse Theatre. The shows are part of Club MAC, the MAC’s popular cabaret-style concert series.
The L.A.-based quartet is perhaps best known for the song “Game Called Life,” which was picked up as the theme song from the Showtime series, “The Big C.”
The music of Leftover Cuties has also been featured in commercials, including a Samsung Galaxy S promotion during the 2012 Olympics. Their song “Smile Big” became a YouTube sensation.
They have an eclectic, interesting sound. The band features lead singer Shirli McAllen on ukulele, Austin Nicholsen on bass and vocals, Mike Bolger on brass, keys, accordion and vocals; and Stuart Johnson on drums, percussion and vocals.
“You can expect a lot of playfulness. We’re very close friends, so there’s a lot of dynamic between us and a lot joking around,” McAllen said. “You can expect to smile a lot, but also expect to possibly be moved by our more tender, intimate moments.”
Their brand of easy-going jazz-pop lends itself perfectly to intimate moments, although you won’t find McAllen waxing poetic and doing a lot of storytelling onstage.
“I definitely interact with the audience, but I’m not a big storyteller,” she said. “And I’m not a big fan of telling people what the song is about. I want people to interpret it the way they want to and the way they relate to it in their own life and their own experience. The songs that we write are very accessible. We don’t have any songs that you have no idea what they’re about.”
McAllen immigrated to America from Israel when she was 21. She didn’t set out to become Billie Holiday with a ukulele; the band naturally developed its own niche.
“At first, it was just something that happened very organically, and we were just lucky to have a sound that is very much our own and we didn’t really sound like anyone else,” she said. “We’ve been together almost six years, and as the years go by and we get ready to do a new release, we always keep in mind not to fall into the same things that we see a lot of bands do. And we do try to think out of the box and remain unique and (keep) the sound that we can call our own.”
After this tour winds down, the Leftover Cuties plan to make more videos and record a lot of the covers they’ve played for years, she said. They also want to record new songs and release them as soon as they’re finished.
“By the time we have 10 or 12 songs, we might put them in an album. We like the idea of releasing a song right when we create it,” she said. “I feel like with the instant world right now … people are going to do that more and more. As much as I am a big fan of albums with a theme that feels like it comes from a period in somebody’s life, I think this can be interesting. I think it’s good for the fans; they don’t have to wait a year or more to hear something new.”