Just got home from Not So Silent Night, a long holiday concert put on by a local radio station. It featured Taking Back Sunday, Muse, Interpol, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and Modest Mouse. All of these bands (save Taking Back Sunday) are ones that I wanted to see solo, but resisted to save money, so it was great to get them as a sampler platter in one night.
All along, I had said that instead of paying $30 to see each band individually, I’m only paying $30 to see them all, which also ended up not being true. My friend ended up sick, though, so I sold his ticket this afternoon… for $60, so the show was free!
Ok, here’s the breakdown:
Taking Back Sunday: Not bad, but a lot of repetitiveness between songs, and the singer seems to amuse himself a lot by whipping his microphone around. at least I hope it was for his amusement, it certainly wasn’t doing anything for me. Their single “A Decade Under The Influence” was pretty good live, but the goal would be to get me interested in songs I hadn’t heard, which didn’t happen.
Muse: One of the bands I was most interested in seeing live and they didn’t disappoint. They sounded great, had great stage presence. You wanted them to play longer. They do have that anthemic Radiohead thing down amazingly well, and have made it their own, but I do wonder whether a full-on show of that would have enough variety. I might be willing to roll the dice on a solo show in the future. They had the second best stage presence of the whole night.
Interpol: This is the band I always think I’m supposed to be loving, but can’t figure out how. Their music is intense. It seems really smart. I can even get into the Joy Divisionish drony lyric thing, but… there’s some disconnect. every time I hear of them, or read about them, I think I should be into them, but it doesn’t happen. So tonight, seeing them live for the first time, I was hoping things would change and I would have what Oprah calls the “a-ha” moment, and it would all click. Didn’t happen. I still think I should be into them, though, but I plan to be less hard on myself now if that doesn’t happen…
The Killers: Love their debut CD. They even played my favorite track, which I didn’t think would fit the set. They sounded good live. But the stage presence wasn’t there. I’m not sure how I grew up in the age of shoegazing grunge, but now demand to be entertained at concerts, but it has happened (save for a few who got grandfathered in from the grunge era). They were just four guys standing onstage, playing well, but… something was missing. I wasn’t connecting with the singer. The songs didn’t take flight live. If their second CD is good, I may roll the dice for a solo show, but… it would have to be really good.
Franz Ferdinand: I saw them once before and they blew the roof off of Slim’s. I was wondering how they would handle such an exponentially larger crowd. I needn’t have worried. They were everything I expected and more. I have actually skipped their last two SF dates, because I didn’t feel I needed to see them so soon again, and tonight, I felt they were more of a bonus. But wow, they certainly nailed it. Stage banter. Nervous energy. Even some shticky band stuff, like all starting the song at the drum riser, and then all rushing the crowd simultaneously. But it works. They have been touring their CD longer than anyone on the bill, and they made it fresh, alive, and fun. I questioned why they weren’t the final act on the bill even before the show, and I wondered that even more once they had finished.
Modest Mouse: I am really into their latest CD: Good News for People Who Like Bad News. But when I saw them on some late night talk show, i wasn’t impressed. Float On, their breakthrough single, has great harmonies on the choruses and ending, but live, no one else sings. They have two drummers on two drum kits playing the seemingly identical part, but getting one extra musician who can play and sing at the same time is too much? They played around with the songs and it sounded good some of the time, but I can’t play the tortured genius card too much if I’m being tortured in the process. The singer started off by mumbling that he was just going to play a bunch of songs, not banter. Which, of course… is banter. So, instead of just playing songs, we are getting bad banter. I’d rather figure out that he’s not going to talk between songs, really. The music was uneven, and moments of genius bubbled up to the surface, but not nearly as beautifully and consistently as they do on the CD. I’ll stick with that.
Cuz, anymore, if you can’t sell it live, I’m staying home.