May 4, 2012

We Were Promised Jetpacks / Breton / Fort Lean / Music Hall of Williamsburg / May 4, 2012

I really have enjoyed seeing bands over the past two years or so. And though Concert-log has made me feel young, during the time I've been working on it, there have been a couple of minor surgical procedures to remind me that I am an ......uh hmm...older gentleman. My last minor surgery was on my foot which is the reason I haven't seen anything since April. Getting back into the swing of things on Friday night felt good but felt sad as well. It was the same day the news came out about Beastie Boy Adam 'MCA' Yauch passing away at age 47. Being only one dog year older, I felt grateful to be alive. As expected, many of songs on the pre-show playlist before Friday night's show included The Beastie Boys.

Fort Lean

At about 8:40, lead Vocalist and guitarist, Keenan Mitchell walked through the audience, standing in front of the stage. and laid down the Fort Lean's set list by his mic stand. It was strange that he didn't do what he did by just walking on stage. But, I didn't think much about it because it gave me a chance to check out my new camera's zoom. The set list photo was taken from the balcony.

The last time I saw Fort Lean was in December of 2011 when they opened for Bear Hands. That night they seemed to have more fun on stage and Mitchell seemed to chat up the audience a little more than he did on Friday night.

This time Fort Lean did 2 songs less but seemed a lot more focused. The songs were the same as the first time around including "Do You Remember," which was my favorite, and "Beach Holiday" which seemed to sound tighter. I also enjoyed "Dreams," which I'm surprised I remembered. 

After performing "Perfect," Mitchell said the band had been on tour with Jetpack for the past ten days and that it was "fun" to be back in the band's hometown. I assume by fun he meant great. In case I didn't say it the first time around, I think what I like about Fort Lean is that certain unaffected attitude that says their from New York.

Fort Lean's Set List
1.High Definition
4.Do You Remember
5.The Mall
6.Dreams (Never Come True)
8.Beach Holiday



I automatically liked Brenton, because at the very least, they have a vision regarding how they want to present themselves as a band. It's nothing new, just another band using various visuals (by Ryan McClarnon) projected on a screen as a backdrop and lighting for their performance. Though for me the minimually lit stage comes off as intense, it does make for a photographer's nightmare.

According to Wikipedia Breton is a rock band out of South London but according to what I've read, the band considers themselves a multimedia collective. How much of a multimedia collective Breton is - is exemplified by the promotional video for Friday night's opening song "15x". I believe the video was shot in the studio Breton works out of in London. 

Since there were more keyboards and sampling gear on stage than guitars, I would say Breton is a more hard hitting electronica band than a rock band in the conventional sense. By the second song "Pacemaker," which had a more apparent lead vocal by Roman Rappak, it was evident that part of Breton's live sound was Adam Ainger's crisp sounding drums cutting through all of the other instrumentation. There was a very interesting break in that second song when the drums stopped allowing just the sampled violin/cello part to play. 

There was a lot in Rappak's quasi spoken sung vocal that reminded me of Tom Vek, in the songs "Interference" and "Edward the Confessor." I have heard a lot of Vek's music on line and I'm hoping (praying really) he will tour in the US one of the days. This is the second time I've been reminded of him while reviewing another band.

To be honest, I've noticed that Rappak's vocals are more audible on videos of the band's live performances posted to Youtube than when I actually saw them. In retrospect, it's apparent that the sound was bad rather than the band intentionally blocking out their own vocalist.

One of the most dance-able songs of the evening was "Governing Correctly" which had many members of the band singing. As when there was one person singing, the multiple vocals were very quasi sung spoken. But it was the bass-line and drums that had Jetpacks' slowly expanding audience dancing.

Although I didn't know what was being sung, "Wood & Plastic" was my favorite. Dispite the violins and the trip-hop beginning, the song's feel had a certain punk sensibility to it. The song was also pretty short and left me wanting more.

My other favorite song was the next to last song called "Foam," which Rappak announced as not being on their album. The song is from the single "Jostle." I not so sure what qualifies as a single nowadays or how many tracks is on a single, so I will just leave it at that until I come to an epiphany.  Breton ended their set with a a very fast song that went by very quickly, or at least that is how I remember experiencing it. I hope I see Breton again, next time in a bigger venue and with a little more light.

Breton's Set List

4.Edward the Confessor
5.Governing Correctly
6.Wood + Plastic
8.Ordinance Survey

We Were Promised Jetpacks

When I told the guy in the cubicle next to me at my day job that I was going to see a band called We Were Promised Jetpacks, he told me the band's name sounded sort of snotty. He actually said he thought it was a horrible name for a band. However, I actually think it's a great name. The name has popped out at me each and every time I've seen it listed during the past three years. If anything, it peaked my curiosity.

According to Wikipedia, We Were Promised Jetpacks is an indie band that formed Edinburgh in Scotland in 2003 before later moving to Glasglow and signing with Fat Cat Records. They have two CD's, the first released in June of 2009 called These Four Walls and the second released in October of 2011 called In the Pit of the Stomach. All of the music played on Friday night spanned over the  band's two albums - leaving the earlier hits for last.

The band opened up there set with "Short Bursts" which has a singsong melody like some sort of Scottish folk song. The song and the testosterone filled audience singing along made me feel like I was watching a local bar band or at least a rough and ready band that's seen a few bar room brawls.

When I listened to We Were Promised Jetpacks, before the show, I liked many of their songs but wasn't impressed by their recordings. But in concert I felt they were a really powerful band.  The first thing I (and anyone who's was at the show) noticed is how powerful Adam Thompsons vocal's are. He often backed 2 feet off the mic, but every time he did his vocals were fully audible.

One of the songs, I was hoping the band would do, was "Human Error," the second song played. The arrangement was little longer and so much better live. By the way, there's version of the song on Youtube with Thompson playing the song on acoustic. Even though he does so with the band in concert, on the acoustic version Thompson never vocally comes out of his lower register - yet the song still works.

"Hard To Remember" started with Michael Palmer seemingly churning the strings on his guitar being run through an effects pedal. Drummer Darren Lackie counted the rest of the band into a tempo that was a little faster than a dirge. I like the song but I can't help think that hook would make either a great cellular ring tone or a door bell.

Though the predominantly male audience had been singing all through Jetpack's set, the crowd was most audible during "Quiet Little Voices." And of course, since it obviously was the evenings favorite, it was time for that international concert sport known as body surfing.

"Peace Sign" was the new song in Jetpacks' set. I knew it was coming because I checked out before the show. When it came it was pretty obvious it was a new song; it's the only song to date where Sean Smith plays a somewhat funky bass-line. I thought the song was small departure from the bands other material.

The show peeked from my vantage point starting with "Ships With Holes Will Sink" and pretty much kept it's momentum going till ending with "It's Thunder and It's Lighting,"   Jetpacks' played a full set without any frills. The band did not do an encore nor did the audience seem like one was expected. Perhaps it's a given to We Were Promised Jetpacks' audiences that the band puts one hundred percent into their performance but when they're done - they are done.!

We Were Promised Jetpacks' Set List
1. Short Bursts
2. Human Error
3. Hard to Remember
4. Quiet Little Voices
5  Peace Sign
6. Ships With Holes Will Sink
7. Boy In The Backseat
8  Medicine
9. Keeping Warm
10. Roll Up Your Sleeves
11. Sore Thumb
12. Pear Tree
13. It’s Thunder and It’s Lightening

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