Mo5aic Brings Sweet Musicality to New Headlining Gig

Mo5aicAdorable, these kids, with their Mom/apple-pie style—but in a quasi-punk-y way. Giveaway? That sweet-natured group founder’s two-hued mohawk.

Hey, Josh Huslig’s coif is an attention-getter—as if he were a street thug about to grab you by the collar, get in your face and sing you a lullaby—but so are the a cappella sounds of Mo5aic, which has opened a yearlong residency at LVH’s Shimmer Cabaret. No strangers to Vegas, the unit—Heath Burgett, Jake Moulton, Corwyn Hodge, Roopak Ahuja and Huslig—opened for George Wallace at the Flamingo for more than three years and was featured in Planet Hollywood’s V—The Ultimate Variety Show.

Bolstered by national exposure as the 2008 winner of MTV’s Top Pop Group and a 2009 semifinalist on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Mo5aic provides a pleasing 70 minutes of entertainment. Banking on an intimate rapport with audience members—among whom they frequently mingle, cajoling several to warble along—Mo5aic is well-matched to the 350-seat Shimmer that doesn’t demand more firepower than musician-free vocalists can provide.

Saying they seem like a cruise-ship/corporate convention/secondary Vegas act (all of which they were) given a modest but deserved promotion to marquee status isn’t unkind. Or inaccurate.

Playfully charming—and accompanying themselves with pitch-perfect mimicry of musical instruments—the lads (yes, “lads”—they’re that likable) have fun with 1964 novelty hit “The Name Game.” Roping us into that doofus rhyming, they tease to that song’s oft-giggled-at, non-lyric lyric (Chuck-Chuck-Bo-Buck-Banana-Fanna-Fo-YOU KNOW) that recalls kiddie memories for many.

Segments are cleverly conceived. Piercing animals shrieks from Huslig deliver us into the goofy “a-weem-a-weh” scatting of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with “Jungle Boogie” spliced in, climaxing in an audience sing-along competition. Demonstrating “sing-reading” skills, Hodge turns text on objects volunteered by the crowd—in this case, a lotion bottle label—into a tune.

Eclecticism is emphasized: a La Bohème aria; a rousing “Hey Jude” with its ramped-up, naaah-nah-nah-nah-naaah climax; a Stevie Wonder tribute; a fabulous take on Dave Brubeck’s jazz anthem, “Take Five,” each member approximating a dazzling instrumental solo as a faux-electric guitar, trombone, string bass and harmonica; Moulton’s virtuoso verbal drumming; and their note-for-note/harmony-for-harmony re-creation of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” every nutty “scaramouche” and “Galileo” intact.

While Mo5aic climaxed with “Dance to the Music,” the retractable wall was rolled back to share the party with the casino. … Gamblers kept gambling.

No offense, Mo5aic—they wouldn’t be diverted by reincarnated Elvis.

STRIP POSTSCRIPT: Over the summer, with as little attention as possible, the Hallmark Channel canned Flamingo headliner Marie Osmond’s talk show, which now is headed for syndication next year. Unlike network dump jobs—which usually amount to beat it, ratings chump—Hallmark gave Ms. O a kiss on the lips:

“We are extremely grateful to Marie Osmond, whose immense talent and dedication to excellence is unmatched in entertainment. Marie is a consummate professional and outstanding human being in every way possible.”

Hallmark—when you care enough to send the very best slobbering, star-struck, forgive-our-unforgivable-transgression press release.

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