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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rockin' Out: Silversun Pickups/Against Me! @ Williamsburg Waterfront 06/25/10

I forgot why exactly I bought Against Me!'s As The Eternal Cowboy around 6 or 7 years ago, but I've been a huge fan of them ever since. The aforementioned As The Eternal Cowboy and the follow-up, Searching For A Former Clarity are my two favorite albums by them although their debut Reinventing Axl Rose is quite good too. After Searching For A Former Clarity came out, Against Me! left Fat Mike of NOFX's label Fat Wreck to sign with a major label and eventually released New Wave. While I like that album, it is definitely not as raw as their earlier albums and for lack of a better term is more "radio friendly". That isn't to say it is bad, it is just more polished, but nonetheless enjoyable. Their second major label album, White Crosses was released earlier this year and I must admit that upon first listen I hated it. It felt like a lame continuation of New Wave and sounded as if the band wasn't pushing forward; however, being the huge fan of the band that I am, I wanted to give it a few more listens to see if it would grow on me. And grow on me it did. This album is much catchier and better than it's predecessor. My guess was that the songs would translate well in the live setting as they are a phenomenal live band from what I've experienced in the 5 or 6 times I've seen them play. So, when an opportunity for a free ticket to see them opening for the Silversun Pickups came up, I was more than happy to accept the offer.

The Williamsburg Waterfront is a new outdoor venue in Brooklyn. I was happy to get to see it this past weekend as I'll be seeing Faith No More there twice within the next seven days. It is a nice layout with plenty of food and beverage vendors and most importantly, plenty of bathrooms (of the portable variety). I unfortunately missed show openers The Henry Clay People as my friend who had my ticket didn't arrive until after their set was over, but I got to hear 4 songs while I was waiting outside and they sounded good. After my friends arrived and we got a variety of wristbands sorted out, we made our way to the V.I.P. section (aren't we frickin' special) to watch Against Me!.

I figured they would probably play a lot of songs from the new album and I was correct. Seven of ten tracks on the album were represented: "High Pressure Low", "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", "White Crosses", "Bamboo Bones", "Suffocation", "Spanish Moss" and "Rapid Decompression". A bit much? Perhaps because after playing three songs from New Wave, they wound up only playing one song each from the first three albums. But at least they were three really, really good songs: "Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong", "Don't Lose Touch" and one of my personal favorite songs, "Sink Florida Sink". With a band like Against Me! who has a popular back catalog, there is always going to be the complaint that they aren't playing enough older material, but as a band, they simply can't ignore their new material (and probably are bored of playing a lot of the older songs). Like I said earlier, I enjoy all of their albums, so while I would have liked to have heard more diversity in the setlist, it was still an awesome show.

[On a side note, one of my favorite parts about Against Me! shows was watching their old drummer. He was very animated and it was great fun to observe his drumming style. From the angle I was at, I could not see their new drummer (who was formerly in another popular Florida "punk" band called Hot Water Music), but he sounded fine. Also, they had a keyboard player on stage with them who I believe is or was in The Hold Steady.]

The headliners of the evening were the Silversun Pickups. When I first saw their video/heard the song "Lazy Eye", I loved it right away. I wound up picking up their debut album Carnavas and liked it. Liked, not loved; however, I was extremely unimpressed with their follow-up album Swoon. I apparently held the minority opinion as their popularity grew rapidly and it seemed everyone I knew with an opinion on music was talking about how great they were. I still maintain that the album is boring and after seeing them live, I hold firm to that opinion. They quickly became background music and my ears only perked up when they played "Lazy Eye". This is the second time I've seen them play live (the first was a few years ago at the Austin City Limits Festival) and they were just as boring as they were the first time despite the fact that they had a fancy light show and better sound this time around. People seem to love them though, so to each their own. I personally will never go out of my way to see them or listen to them again.

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