South By Southwest is generally regarded as a place to check out what’s new and exciting in the world of music. And not to toot our own horn or anything, but the Panic Manual did just that two years ago and caught Temper Trap at the Cedar Street Courtyard. So why were we back to check them out again? Well, for one thing, I didn’t see them two years ago, so in a way they were new to me. I mean, I know that one song, but otherwise, I’ve never really paid them much mind, so this was the perfect opportunity to delve a bit deeper. And frankly, I wasn’t all that impressed. Which is not to say that these guys were terrible or anything. They’re a talented bunch of guys and singer Dougy Mandagi definitely has a powerful voice (although at times, he veered slightly towards reminding me of this guy), but for whatever reason, they just didn’t resonate for me. There were definitely those in the crowd who were digging it though, and it was nice to hear “Sweet Disposition” but for me, these guys didn’t quite live up to all the hype.
One thing about their show I would like to comment on is drums. No, not The Drums, although they would be playing Stubb’s the night after this. No, what I’m referring to is Mandagi’s use of drums and other auxiliary percussive instruments on stage. As I watched Mandagi do his thing with the drums (I don’t think he pulled out the whole water on the drumhead trick this evening), I was reminded of two other shows I had seen over the previous couple of days – Royal Teeth and Django Django. Both bands made extensive use of extra drums and percussion throughout their sets, as does Temper Trap. I found that with Django Django, it worked perfectly with what they do, yet with Royal Teeth, a young band who otherwise impressed with their energy and charisma, I found that the whole “everybody drum now” aesthetic took me out of the performance for a minute and had me wondering if it’s now become a cliched trope of indie rock. Oh,Arcade Fire, what hath you wrought? Or was it the Blue Man Group who started this trend? For that matter, does it even count as a trend or is it just what bands do now? I suppose Temper Trap gets a pass on this because they’ve been doing it long enough, but I feel like this whole thing is becoming a bit played out. We need something new – maybe a band where everybody stops mid-song and does a kazoo break. Yeah, maybe that would be cool. Temper Trap, you should totally try this at your next show. You’re welcome.