The members of Gump Fiction, a ’90s cover band from the Charlotte area, knew from the start they wouldn’t be a typical band.
“We wanted to be a time machine that teleports people back to the 90s, much like a ride at Disney World,” said Nick Loder, 30, the group’s lead male vocalist.
They are performing at Casual Water at the Tega Cay Golf Club center on New Year's Eve.
Their goal is to become the Carolinas’ Ultimate ’90s Experience, so they designed a show that would be nostalgic and fun.
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Before the music begins, an audio montage of infamous ’90s sound bytes plays, ending with the sound of a dial-up modem that launches the band into their first song.
Their sets include a little bit of everything, from grunge to sugary pop. Between songs, Loder hosts a game-show-style ’90s trivia match game with audience members, who have to hit a slap bracelet on his arm to answer and can walk away with a retro prize like a VHS movie or a Tamagotchi pet.
“We set up ’90s video games for people to play while they are rocking out to that Matchbox 20 song they forgot they loved,” said Loder.
There’s also a dance party between sets, with old school hip hop and dance music.
Loder said, although 80s cover bands have had a lot of success, he felt the timing was right to launch a band that was devoted to the ’90s.
“There is now a younger generation whose formidable years were based largely in the ’90s and it is that demographic that is most likely to be in a bar at 1 a.m. on a Friday night,” Loder said.
The ’90s also launched a lot of cultural change such as music downloads and the acceleration of electronic communication.
“I wanted to wrap all of these things up and more into a multi-faceted show and watch the looks on people’s faces when they hear that song that they used to be obsessed with and relive their eighth grade dance,” said Loder, who lives in Pineville.
The passion Loder had for his vision came through loud and clear when Ken Shulfelt, a Mooresville resident and the group’s bass guitarist, first read the Craigslist ad Loder had posted looking for band members in October 2012. In fact, it was an idea that Shufelt already had himself.
“A quality production cover band that plays strictly ’90s songs, while capturing the nostalgia of the decade, was an idea that I came up with when the last band I was in was coming to an end,” said Shufelt, 29.
He answered Loder’s ad within minutes and the two became instant friends.
Dan Bonfili, 39, of Dilworth, came aboard shortly after as lead guitarist. He also introduced them to Will Ellis, a drummer from Huntersville who joined the band but recently had to quit due to scheduling conflicts. Natalie Morris, 40, from Tega Cay, was the last member to join as lead female vocalist.
“When I saw the Craigslist ad stating ‘female singer wanted for a ’90s band,’ I felt it was directed right at me,” said Morris. “I get the concept, I love the music and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.”
Bonfili said he knew it was going to be something special.
“I definitely knew I didn’t want to be in just any cover band. I wanted to be part of a cover band of distinction, a movement that commemorated a particular point in time,” he said.
Mike Duncan, 29, of Concord, recently joined as the band’s new drummer.
The band, which played their first show in June 2013, has played about 20 shows to date, ranging from Mooresville to Rock Hill, and plan to continue expanding across both states.
“Our show is like some kind of surreal time warp where you can dance to Vanilla Ice, challenge your friends to Mortal Kombat, or maybe even win a Tamagotchi Pet if you’re fast enough with a slap bracelet,” Shufelt said. “It’s awesome to give that experience to people.”