Friday, April 13, 2012

Show Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks w/ Bad Veins

Bad Veins @ Motorco
In February of 2010 I was graced with the privilege of seeing We Were Promised Jetpacks and Bad Veins pull the one-two punch in Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte.  I remember being floored by Bad Veins and even more surprised by how absolutely perfect Jetpacks' set was.  I went into the show blind to Bad Veins but a big WWPJ fan, so hearing that the combo was going to be coming to Motorco on April 7 naturally got me all schoolgirl giddy.  We Were Promised Jetpacks has since put out a relatively disappointing new album and Bad Veins are getting closer and closer to the release of their sophomore full length, judging by this show it looks like Bad Veins may be swiftly rising above Jetpacks in terms of longevity and energy.

Bad Veins produce unique indie-rock that has an absolutely mesmerizing live show.  From the minute you see the band setting up for sound check you're tantalized by the presence of the telephone hanging near the microphone, wondering just quite what singer Benjamin Davis will do with it.  Between playing guitar, keyboard, and singing, Davis also operates a reel-to-reel tape that adds wonders to the aesthetic of the band's performance.  It's incredible seeing two men produce music with such density on a live stage, especially considering they're still giving it their all and pouring with energy.

Bad Veins' phone set-up
From Davis' distorted shouts into the telephone to Sebastien Schultz' incessant drumming, Bad Veins filled Motorco with a sense of awe.  Though the band was constantly experiencing sound problems (Davis was asking for his monitor to be turned up in between nearly every single song, an experience I'd imagine could get grating for a band) they rolled right on through it with favorites from their debut full-length with "Gold and Warm", "Cross Eyed" and "Afraid", while mixing in new songs from their upcoming full length The Mess We've Made.  I captured video of the band's first single from The Mess We've Made, "Dancing On TV", which can be found after the jump.

We Were Promised Jetpacks on the other hand fell short.  Very short.  After seeing the band at Tremont years ago I had high expectations for this live show, especially after they'd blown me away the first time I saw them.  The band lacked a sense of enthusiasm for this headlining set in Durham, there wasn't much movement or energy until the end of the set when the crowd favorites started to find their way into the set.  This could easily be chocked up to a "Oh you didn't like their new album so all of the new stuff they played was just bad to you."  Well that's partially true, but there was little to no stage banter, barely any interaction with the audience, and little stage presence in general.  While songs like "Quiet Little Voices" usually fill me with an invigorating feeling, I was left unimpressed by the lackluster performance by the band.  Tracks like "Roll Up Your Sleeves", "Keep Warm", and finale "It's Thunder And It's Lightning" shined brightly, but while being compared to a bleak set it was hard for them not to.

Bad Veins stole this show hands down.  They felt far more appreciative of the crowd and put on one hell of a show, it was almost a shame that Jetpacks was headlining instead of Bad Veins.  While WWPJ were technically proficient with all of their songs, hitting their notes pitch perfect and building their vast instrumentation with ease, it felt like the band was just running through the motions.  I'll give the band the benefit of the doubt and assume it was a bad night or a long tour, but either way my friends and I walked out of Motorco the same way we walked out of Tremont, with a sense of joy and wonder.  However, this time it was from the sheer excellence of Bad Veins' set in comparison to a let down from We Were Promised Jetpacks.

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