Monday, September 14, 2009

Reviews: Matt & Kim, Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Gaslight Anthem

Last week was pretty busy with shows. Didn't see anything local (hoping to fix that with a Kyle Harvey/Brad Hoshaw show on Wednesday), but I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw...


First up was Matt & Kim at the Waiting Room. I don't think it was at capacity, but it was one of the larger crowds I've ever seen there. Also one of the younger crowds I've ever seen there.

The girls in front of me in line had those minor music venue parental consent forms and quite a few people had an "X" drawn across each hand in black magic marker. Guess Matt & Kim's dance-rock-pop-whatever music resonates with the high school/college age crowd.

Dance, they did. The last time M&K were in town was a show at O'Leaver's attended by very few people, so the duo was pretty excited to see a club full of people jumping and dancing.

Favorite moments in the set were "Yeah Yeah" and "Daylight," which the duo performed with a lot more energy in the set than on their albums. Couple other cool things were when they worked in parts of "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" by Ol' Dirty Bastard, "Apache" by Sugar Hill Gang and "Final Countdown" by Europe before during and after songs. I thought they were pretty sweet, but I think those parts might have been lost on some of the younger folks in the crowd.


Thursday night was Pains of Being Pure at Heart at Slowdown Jr.

The set was good, although it was nearly impossible to hear singer Kip Berman. Not sure if he was drowned out in the mix or if he just doesn't sing loud enough.

That leads me to my chief complaint of watching shows in the Slowdown Jr. configuration (for those of you who haven't seen a show that way, they close off the main stage area and set up a smaller stage at the other end of the bar, near the door.) It's way too damn loud.

Every time (even for Brad Hoshaw... not a loud guy, per se), it's been ridiculously loud. I don't know if it's the proximity to the speakers on that end or what, but the volume was high enough that it made it quite difficult for me to pick out words and instruments. It kind of blends together and sounds all muddy.

Despite my issues with the sound, the band was good. I was surprised by the lack of turnout, especially after all of the buzz swarming that band since their stint at SXSW.


Last review is for the Gaslight Anthem, who performed Friday night at Sokol Underground. I had originally promised by brother that I'd go with him to see raunchy, country-fried comedian Rodney Carrington at Stir, but it got rained out. I was more than happy to head to south 13th Street instead.

Gaslight was great, but were pretty underserved by the venue. I really don't like the Underground, to be honest (though I don't know anyone who likes that place).

A lot of fedora-wearing, neck tattoo-sporting folks crammed into the basement to hear the band kick out its Springsteen-inspired tunes and some of their earlier punkier offerings. The crowd was going nutty, which the band was feeding off of. Singer Brian Fallon, especially, was really getting into it.

A couple meat-heads in the front got in a fight at the beginning of one song, causing Fallon & co. to stop playing and Fallon started reprimanding them from the stage. One of the guys involved started yelling back at him, prompting Fallon to respond, "Hey, I don't know if you want to do that. I got a gold tooth and nothing to lose." Classic. Eventually, he calmed things down by telling them to go to opposite ends of the room and chill out.

The band performed most of "The '59 Sound" album and a few older tunes. They also did a cover of Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust," which was pretty straightforward but I think they did better than the original.

For me, I like the band's newer stuff from "The '59 Sound" a little better, though I think I might have been outnumbered by the punkers there. I'm curious to see where they go with the third album. After all the Springsteen comparisons, I think they might start shying away from that style a bit.

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