Friday, March 12, 2010

We Were Promised Jetpacks - March 11, 2010

Shows like Thursday's We Were Promised Jetpacks appearance at Lincoln Hall are why we do what we do here, and was another in a great streak of reasons we always recommend showing up to shows early.

Brooklyn's Bear Hands opened the night with a solid set of indie rock that reminded us a bit of a psychedelic-tinged Vampire Weekend at parts. The passionate, aching vocals and heavy, distinct rhythms really made it clear why they are lined up for upcoming tours with Passion Pit and As Tall As Lions. Make sure to head to shows early where these guys are involved. Newly crowned next-big-thing, The Lonely Forest delivered the kind of performance that will only add to the swelling excitement around the summer release of their Chris Walla produced album, Arrows. Full of exceedingly catchy hooks and shaggy guitars, they are a bit like a poppier version of early Death Cab For Cutie. It is easy to hear why Walla chose this band to launch his new record label. "Is There An End" stood out in a set of gooey gems, sounding like a polished garage band taking on the brit-pop classics of John Hughes films.

Though the venue was packed from the start for the great three-band lineup, it was clear, as good as the first two bands were, the masses were there for Scotland's We Were Promised Jetpacks. The foursome took the stage to the haunting sound of the operator numbers from "A Half Built House" before fluttering through the instrumental introduction to "Keep Warm". The slow build up from atmospheric beauty to the jagged, jittery riffs of the song kicked the set off wonderfully. The tightly wound bliss of "Quiet Little Voices" came next, sounding as if it could snap and fall apart at any moment as front man Adam Thompson's stand-and-deliver method of belting out the cathartic lyrics rained over the crowd. It is a testament to the band that they have the confidence to play what could easily serve as the fist-pounding set-closer as the second track of the night; a move which could spell disaster for a lesser band.

We Were Promised Jetpacks are not exactly short on shout-a-long material. Lovestruck "Moving Clocks Run Slow" got a boost with edgier, determined vocals from Thompson to match the frantically spewing riffs. The band took the opportunity to play a couple of new tracks from their just-released The Last Place You'll Look EP. The EP itself is a more restrained take on the band's sound, but they ramped them up a bit to fit in better with the aggressive tone of the set. "A Far Cry" retained its sleepy open, but quickly gave way to rocky waves of riffs and rolling beats. The slow lead in of the operator numbers anxiously mocked the start of the topical "It's Thunder And It's Lightning"; with concert-goers braving a fierce spring storm on the way to the show. As soon as the pounding beat kicked up for the explosive song, the crowd erupted to sing-a-long.

The band wisely chose the ballsier version of "This Is My House, This Is My Home", rather than the softer take featured on the EP, before the wildly thrashing "Ships With Holes Will Sink". They are not likely to surprise you live, but when songs have as much raw emotion as "Ships", there is no need to mess with a good thing. The only small complaint of the night was the lack of an encore after the hour-long set. Thompson joked that they were 'silly', but when you earn it the way they did, there is nothing 'silly' about it. Thomspson commented at one point that they had played to about twenty fans at Empty Bottle last time through, and thanked everyone for coming back and 'bringing friends'. Based on the hard-charging set Thursday night, it is not hard to imagine the band playing to even larger, sold-out venues in the near future.

Keep Warm
Quiet Little Voices
Moving Clocks Run Slow
With The Benefit Of Hindsight
A Far Cry
It's Thunder And It's Lightning
Roll Up Your Sleeves
This Is My House, This Is My Home
Ships With Holes Will Sink
Short Bursts

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