Thursday, April 8, 2010
Rockin' Out: The Whigs/Band Of Skulls @ Bowery Ballroom 03/31/10
Band Of Skulls is a British band that I had heard a lot of hype about and then subsequently dismissed said hype. I didn't have any particular reason for doing so, I just felt like ignoring the hype machine. The thing about the hype machine though is that sometimes it is spot on (The Strokes come to mind as a good example of this). So for whatever reason, a few weeks ago I felt the sudden urge to pick up their debut album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey (a big part of the allure was that it was only $5.99 on Amazon which is a price point that makes the risk of diving into the unknown a little less intimidating) and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. I wound up getting pretty hooked on the album for a week (which is an eternity for me these days), so was pretty excited to be seeing them opening for The Whigs. In my opinion, Band Of Skulls sound like what The Dead Weather would sound like if The Dead Weather were actually good. [I don't care what anyone says, The Dead Weather is average at best. Just because Jack White is in a band does not automatically make that band great.] In other words, they sound like southern blues hard rockers who have heard a Led Zeppelin record or two in their time. Their live performance was a lot looser than their recordings (which is often the case) and made their songs feel a little more rocking and dynamic. My only complaint about their set has nothing to do with the band, but with the audience. I don't know if it was a bunch of industry people or what exactly was going on, but there was a TON of chatter throughout the band's set. And I wasn't standing in the back by the bar, I was actually in the middle of the crowd and the banter was practically deafening. I don't understand why people pay good money to see a band (or have someone pay to get them in as may be the case) and then talk the whole time. I can understand bumping into someone you know and having a brief conversation or making comments during the band's set because after all this isn't the ballet or opera, but to talk the whole time? The Bowery Ballroom has a full and spacious bar downstairs from where the bands play, so if you don't like the band, then go hang downstairs and quit bothering the people around you with your inane babble while they are trying to actually watch the band. To quote Seinfeld, "People. They're the worst."
Next up was The Whigs. I'm a huge fan of their new album In The Dark as well as 2008's Mission Control. The funny thing about The Whigs is that after I really got into them, it dawned upon me that I had had the opportunity to see them live at least four times when they did tours as openers for the Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell. I had opted not to get to the venue in time for each of those shows and hindsight always being 20/20, was now kicking myself. No matter though as now I would be getting to see them live. I had heard that they were a solid live band, so was pretty excited. Fortunately, the band did not disappoint. They played my (current) favorite song by them "Production City" which made the night for me. It sounds more like a long lost INXS b-side rather than the southern rock tag the band is often given. Actually, most of the band's music is more akin to the alt rock of the late 80's and early 90's than anything remotely southern rock and especially the songs from the new album. Speaking of the new album, "I Am For Real", "Kill Me Carolyn" and "Hundred/Million" all sounded fantastic in the live setting. As with Band Of Skulls' set, there was a lot of talking during The Whigs, but I can't complain about it this time since my girlfriend and I did stand in the back by the bar which is a high chatter area and I was guilty of saying hello to a few friends myself. The Whigs played "Right Hand On My Heart" which is one of their "bigger" songs (and may or may not have been their final song of the evening) and we slipped out the door and headed home.
Minus the chatty Cathy crowd, it was a great showing by both bands and a good night.
And a quick aside: We had dinner before the show at a delicious Mexican restaurant called Mexican Radio that is right near the Bowery Ballroom. Being fans of hot sauces, my girlfriend and I were checking out the various bottles on the table. The below hot sauce gave us a laugh with the name and label, but proved to be fairly unimpressive in the heat department:
Band Of Skulls "I Know What I Am"
The Whigs "Kill Me Carolyn"
The Whigs "Right Hand On My Heart"