3/22/05- The Soundtrack Of Our Lives-Theater of the Living Arts-Philadelphia, Pa. Underground Swedish sensation, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, surfaced in Philadelphia on March 22 for a no-holds bar performance to an intimate crowd that would rather congregate at the stageʼs edge than lean against the bar, idly sipping their beers and resorting to the music as merely backgroSoundtrackʼs live performance would distract anyone not focused in their immediate foreground. While the drummer, whose drum and cymbal set-up mirrored The Whoʼs old drummer Keith Moon, twirled and flung his sticks like a marching band baton, the rhythm guitarist launched his own loogies four feet in the air before they landed right back into his mouth. All the while lead singer Ebbot Lundberg commanded the stage wearing a mu-mu. Everything about this band is retro, from their attitudes to their arrangements. Their clothes, instruments and foreign persuasion all point back to the musical revolution of the 1960s. Channeling the mystique and energy of sixties rock, Soundtrack channels the sounds of the early Who, Cream and the Rolling Stones. Lundberg, who looks like Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, has a baritone voice, yet can scream like Roger Daltrey and haunt like Jim Morrison. During “21st Century Rip-Off,” the bandʼs final encore and one of the nightʼs peaks, Lundberg made his way off the stage, singing while he walked among the crowd. Lundberg has a “cult leader” quality to him. He conducts himself as the leader of the audience, entertaining his followers with a high-nosed sense of self assurance. One fan threw himself on Lundberg with the grip of a scared child, enthralled by the singerʼs presence when he navigated the crowd. The ambiance of Soundtrack and their show is old-school, and their hooks are catchy modern pop that were born from European influence injected with modern structure that has grafted todayʼs pop definition. Soundtrack is the definitive definition of modern dayʼs interpretation of classic rock. The band take old influences and ideas and plant them in a neo-classic style.
3/27/05- Interpol- The Electric Factory – Philadelphia, Pa. Easter Sunday was the rescheduled date to the cancelled concert on Feb. 28, postponed due to the snow storm. Interpol, a New York indie band, has grown so far from its past status thanks to two successful albums Turn On The Bright Lights (2002) and Antics (2004), their four star follow- up that improved upon their distinct style. Interpol could just be another tide in the new wave of dark, danceable rock, yet their extreme popularity and ability to create thick-sounding songs with only a few guitars, keys and drums suggest their substance requires a second listen. Sunday nightʼs set-list flipped between both albums, eliciting roars from the sold-out crowd as each one began. The set started with Anticʼs opener, “Next Exit,” a short, repetitive song with an abrupt ending.
Combining popular elements of todayʼs most respected bands and fueling them with 1980s infused rock, Interpol spawns a pulsating, very rhythmic, new-age collection of love songs. Creative, intelligent lyrics like, “Take hold of your time here, give some meaning to the means to your ends” on top of off-beat hi-hat lifts, a rumbling bass drum, and engine pumping down strokes from the guitarist, invent an industrial toughness woven through out U2 guitar licks and the vocal diction of Morrissey and his former band The Smiths.
Despite the six year decline of radio rock ratings, and the fold of Y100, the Philly rock station responsible for presenting and promoting the gig, Interpol still managed to maintain the buzz and sell out the venue with a packed house nearly a month later. “Itʼs a huge blow for fans and for bands that Y100 closed and that other stations are closing,” said Interpol manager Brandon Schmidt. “Say Hello To Angels,” from Bright Lights, has an intense heavy riff intro that reminded me of Pettyʼs “American Girl” on speed. Favorites like “Evil” were seamless, regimented on a syncopated double-time beat and a guitar tone overly recognizable in todayʼs modern rock scene. Interpolʼs a band with a creative edge that can sometimes grow mundane due to the consistency of style and content.
3/29/05- The Black Crowes-Hammerstein Ballroom- NYC The second to last show of their mini marathon of dates atNYCʼs Hammerstein Ballroom was marked as one of the best set lists in Crowesʼ history on the Crowesʼ fan Web site, www.amorica.com.
The show opener was a mind blowing rendition of The Bandʼs “Donʼt Do It.” When you combine positive crowd chemistry with insanely energetic band members, you open your eyes and find yourself in the midst of an urban circus. NY gypsies, out-oftown clowns and a skinny bearded ring leader mask the adventure of a true rock and roll experience. Rationed with only twelve ounces, your eight dollar Corona Extra becomes your canteen, your lone soldier for the entire show.
Prying yourself between the hundreds of fans on the floor, fighting through walls of people is not worth losing your 10th row position you fought so hard to claim, especially to blow through your modest paycheck on over-priced imported beer. Surrounded by strangers who quickly became friends, I soaked up the energy from every person in my vicinity. Whether ballads that turned wild, or blues that rocked, every tune was spiraled into an extended jam showcasing every memberʼs musical chops.
The unity between guitarists Marc Ford and Rich Robinson is so explicit; the tango of double guitar battles and soloing is so in your face it usually commands and takes over the mood of any song. The two shared the spot light on “Let Me Share The Ride,” and “Shake Your Money Maker,” and even stole it from one another on “High Head Blues.”
Chris Robinson handed over the role of band leader to brother Rich, who looked very much in control, counting in the band, changing the rhythms and ending the songs. Chris looked content in his primitive role, allowing the band to jam and the instrumentalists to solo.
The climax of the show came ,without question, when opening act North Mississippi Allstarʼs guitarist Luther Dickinson, soloed pickless with the band on encores of “Shake Your Money Maker” and “Happy.” The Black Crowes are scheduled to open for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on their summer ʻ05 tour.