Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Whigs - April 23, 2010

The Whigs dipped into local waters for opening acts. Old Fake took the stage first, with a hard-charging sound that perfectly balanced punk and blues that made them an ideal opener for the Athens trio. The trio's sound had a lot in common with The Whigs, if you stripped away the southern influences. Keep an eye for them on upcoming shows in the area, and get there early because they are definitely worth your attention. More established Chicago act, Empires followed with a solid opening set. Their sound was a bit hard to peg, for better or worse, pulling at the corners of classic rock, alternative, adult contemporary, and even metal at times. Their intriguing blend of influences was not enough to stop from wishing Old Fake and Empires were reversed on the set.

The Athens, Georgia rockers took the stage to the Braves’ “Tomahawk Chop”, with the crowd happily joining in on the arm-swinging action. The trio took on light-hearted, keyboard-laced “Nothing Is Easy” first, giving long-time fans something to swoon over before hitting the new material hard. The set was dominated by the band’s two most recent efforts, with the easier-going material from their debut feeling a bit out of place at this point compared to the grittier sounds that followed.

The loose, jangling riffs and thumping bass line of “I Am For Real” served well as a bridge to the edgier rock that would follow. The trio jumped back to Mission Control for the hard-charging “Hot Bed”, showing off the tight sound of the trio and, front man, Parker Gispert’s energetic performance as he strutted across the stage to the beat. This is a band much larger than the stage they were playing. The set dove head-first into a handful off their fantastic third album, In The Dark, only slowing down for the clunky psychedelic clutter of “Dying”. The Tim Deaux’s rolling bass line and the frantic beat of Julian Dorio showed the band to truly be a three-man show.
Gispert’s grizzled vocals on “So Lonely” colored the song wonderfully before they busted out the album’s lead single, “Kill Me Carolyn”. The fluttering rumble of “Black Lotus” closed the pack of new material well, with wiry guitar blaring through. Gispert praised the enthusiastic crowd at the end, calling Chicago “the liveliest big city – New York and LA are a bunch of stiffies”. It felt a bit ironic, given the city’s reputation for standing motionless, but the band’s raucous rockers and no-nonsense attitude brought out the best in the crowd. The rippling beat of “Like A Vibration” led off a string of fan-favorites, leading into the stomping rhythm of “Production City” and explosive, anthem-ready “Right Hand On My Heart”.

Gispert’s move the keyboard took some air out of the set for “Half The World Away”, but the move served the band well; giving Deaux, now on guitar, and Dorio a chance to rock out a bit, and providing the calm before the storm. Shout-a-long epic, “Naked” served as the highlight of the night, where the slow-burn mystery of the verses played great against the snarling, empowering hook. The swaggering “Already Young” closed the regular set, and the band returned to the stage again to the “Tomahawk Chop” for the encore. The easy-going “Say Hello” from their debut kicked things off slowly, but the trio finished strong with southern-tinged, conscious-conflicted “Someone’s Daughter” and thrashing “Need You Need You”. Having seen them previously at Lollapalooza, we confidently say that they have never sounded better, and are a must-see band at this point. Consider yourself lucky if they are coming through your town and there are tickets still available.

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