Fear Of Men‘s debut full length Loom was a strong debut, easily earning a place as one of my favourite releases of 2014 and their latest album Fall Forever looks like a sure bet to also make it onto my list of faves for this year. The new album is an extension of what the Brighton band were doing on Loom both sonically and lyrically, but singer Jessica Weiss has taken a much more direct and personal approach to her songwriting this time around.
In a recent interview with Paper Mag, Weiss described the new album as having “a lot of intense emotional stuff: Intense happiness and intense loss.” It’s an apt description of the moody tone reflected in much of the band’s music – it’s dark, but not quite gloomy and in many ways there’s something uplifting about it that does come across in their live show.
In concert, Weiss has taken to focusing more on just her vocals, spending maybe only about half of her time on stage at The Garrison playing guitar and the rest of the time swaying and gesticulating to the music as she led the band through numbers like “Trauma” and “Island,” bringing a more direct emotional connection to the music.
“I’m 65. What the hell happened? I can’t even remember if that’s the way I like it,” joked Harry Wayne “KC” Casey near the beginning of their set. “Some of you young people may not even know me. I was your mother’s N Sync. This is what Justin Timberlake will look like in 30 years.” Apparently in 30 years time, Justin may end up looking like James Gandolfini gone Vegas. But I digress.
So yes, KC is old, but for a man his age, his voice is still there, he’s still got some pretty sweet dance moves and he definitely puts on a show. At times, the show got a little too glitzy and showbizzy for my taste, but it’s pretty hard to deny songs like “(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty,” “I’m Your Boogie Man,” and “Get Down Tonight.” Those are some crowd pleasers right there and KC certainly aimed to please, leading his band through all the hits and getting the people moving. And if the crowd wasn’t shaking their booties as much as KC may have hoped for, there were a couple of dancers onstage to make up for it, literally shaking some booty throughout the night – yes, there was twerking involved.
Alongside the big hits, they played a few songs from their latest, a collection of ’60s covers, as well as a few that I didn’t even realize were by KC and The Sunshine Band, including “Please Don’t Go,” “Yes, I’m Ready” and George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby,” which KC explained was the first big hit that he wrote, adding that it inspired ABBA to write “Dancing Queen” and John Lennon to write “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.” It seemed a bit like KC was tooting his own horn at that point, but whatever. If I wrote a song that inspired ABBA and one of the Beatles, I’d probably be telling everyone too.
Invariably during a show there’s that one song that catches your attention – it’d elicited a “meh, skip” reaction when you were listening to it recorded, and yet when you hear it live you find yourself jumping so enthusiastically that the tall person behind you is probably afraid you’re going to jump up and smack into their jaw.
That moment came for me when Dreamers broke into “Never Too Late to Dance.” The (very, very good looking) cosmic rockers, fronted by Nick Wold on guitar and vocals, prefaced the song with a “you might want to move your hips to this one.” Understatement if I ever heard one. The best moment of the show came when Wold showed off his own moves and turned a disco move into a guitar stroke.
The indie trio moved through “Shooting Shadows,” “Sweet Disaster,” “Dreamers” and “Wolves” off their current EP You Are Here and their upcoming debut album This Album Does Not Exist, and they were absolutely incredible in all their punky, 70’s, poppy, rocker glory. I’d suggest grabbing a ticket for this tour when they’re still playing your favorite local haunt and not some mega stadium.
As Pere Ubu started their set at Lee’s Palace on Thursday night, frontman David Thomas told the crowd that the band was pretty amped up since this was the first date on their current tour. He went on to explain the difference between “normal person amped up” and Pere Ubu’s version of amped up: “It’s unsustainable – we’re old men. That’s why I’m sitting down. My body may be broken, baby, but my mind is as dangerous as ever!”
Thomas, delightfully weird and cranky curmudgeon that he is, led his bandmates through a set of classics from 1975 to 1982. “Don’t play the loud part!” he shouted at them during one tune, forcing the band to quickly switch things up and play the song a bit differently. He mentioned afterwards that bassist Michele Temple was probably disappointed that she didn’t get the one chance during their show to use her pedal on the aforementioned loud part. “If your bass player ever says they want to buy a pedal, fire them,” he joked.
Of course it’s sometimes hard to tell whether Thomas is always joking or not. On this occasion, he seemed to take some pleasure in berating his bandmates, especially the guitarist, for not playing things quite the way he wanted them. I’m not sure how much of it was serious and how much was an act, but it certainly made for a livelier performance. That’s David Thomas for you – his mind is as dangerous as ever.