Counterfeit Madison’s cathartic night of rock and roll

Writer: Alex D.

Pop-rockers Mary Lynn started the night off with a rockin’ set to warm up the crowd, leaving it all on the stage. Mary screamed, “We have too much on our shoulders anyway,” while the rest of the band bounced around, care-freely swinging their guitars.

During one of the breaks between songs, guitarist Joe Camerlengo said, “You guys know that Sharon (Udoh, of Counterfeit Madison) is gonna burn this place down, right?” It was as if they were just gathering the kindling.

Sharon Udoh of Counterfeit Madison falls to the ground after an emphatic performance at the Wexner Center. (Photos: Zachary Kolesar)

Sharon Udoh of Counterfeit Madison falls to the ground after an emphatic performance at the Wexner Center. (Photos: Zachary Kolesar)

This seemed to be the case, because the Wexner Center Performance Space floor began to look more and more like the Chicago “L” during rush hour.  Ending their set with a heartfelt dedication to Sharon, Lynn proclaimed, “For everyone here, Sharon is probably the best person you know.”

And I can’t agree more.

The two-piece Corbezzolo played next, and though singer Marie Corbo could barely speak, her voice floated angelically throughout the room. She laid down solemn grooves on bass, while Noah Demland kept it tight and exciting on the drums.

Then rapper Correy Parks took the stage, and it immediately became clear that Parks has a mind and heart for people. He opened his brief set by talking to the crowd about a bit of what he’s been going through. The fact that Sharon pulled the courage out of him to perform again after a short hiatus is one of many testimonies to Counterfeit Madison’s magic.

Parks gracefully continued into a poem/unfinished song called “No More.” Then he quickly transitioned into a song he wrote for our beloved Crew SC and closer “Love Yourself,” during which he had the room chanting, “We free now!”

Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for arrived when Counterfeit Madison took the stage to a sold out crowd roaring with admiration. Overwhelming as the moment was, with the audience showing thunderous affection, Sharon mustered up the courage to finally say, "I need a moment."

She returned to dole out as many thanks as she could. Sharon flashed her signature grin and said, "So I'm bad. I’m Midwestern, and Midwestern people like to be humble, but my record is the s---!”

The set started with "Like One and One and A to Z" and "Shout About Clout," the first two tracks from her second album, “Opposable Thumbs.” From the very start the crowd was connected through head-bangs, gyrations, tears and clapping out of sheer joy.

After playing a few more songs, notably "It's Like Magic" and "Slow as Molasses,"  Sharon dismissed the rest of the band and played a song with just her and her piano. From seeing her perform solo before, I knew that this was going to be a moment.

Sharon has the ability to take you on an emotionally cathartic, satisfying ride. Crooning out the words, "You set fire to the timber of my castle," she opened up and shed a few tears. As I looked around, I noticed she wasn't the only one. When the song ended, Sharon said, “Thanks for going there with me.”

Sharon started to mix up the accompanying ensemble quite a bit, adding two other vocalists that included local treasure Paisha Thomas. The other three core members of Counterfeit Madison and four-piece trumpet and sax section joined Sharon shortly after.  

In full effect, songs like "Song for the Loyals," featuring Sam Bodary of Hello Emerson on lead vocals, and "Bartlett's" really got everyone moving, especially Sharon. Toward the end of "Bartlett's," Sharon went into an all-out fit, jumping out from behind her piano, screaming incoherent lyrics into the front row of people shaking and falling on the stage. These are the moments that make a Counterfeit Madison show special.

The band brought Sharon back from the dark side, and after Sharon slyly apologized, she became encouraged when someone in the crowd yelled, "You're nourishing our spirits!"

Indeed she was.

The show continued with "Don't Cry Wolf" and "Impossible," in which she has a line, "I wish I was a dragon so I could set fire to yo ass!" The fact that the Wexner Center didn't burn down was a miracle.

If nothing else, Sharon and the rest of Counterfeit Madison set fire to our souls. The show was an experience to behold, and if you missed it, I would hope that you don't miss the next show.