Monday, March 15, 2010

Quick Recaps: Surfer Blood, We Were Promised Jetpacks, and Ted Leo

Three concerts last week, bringing the 2010 total to five so far.

Surfer Blood @ Schuba's - 3/10/10

First up was Surfer Blood, a band out of Florida with a California sound. They played Schuba's, which is right around the corner of my apartment. That made this show very convenient, as I had spent the previous 2+ hours at the United Center watching the Kings lose to the Blackhawks in overtime. So I missed the opener (Turbo Fruits), but got into the club about 10 minutes before the headliners took the stage.

They've only got one album, so they unsurprisingly played pretty much that whole album, minus one or two (I don't think they played Slow Jabroni). It was a pretty short set, maybe 40-45 minutes or so, but they sounded great on their single "Swim". You can tell these guys are fairly new to the game, but they brought their good sound and put on a decent show.

We Were Promised Jetpacks @ Lincoln Hall - 3/11/10

Scottish kids out of Glasgow via Edinburgh in their early 20s. A friend told me, and wikipedia confirms, that their first gig was a battle of the bands at their high school, which they won. That was about seven years ago. Their first album was released last year and I'll crib from Pitchfork and call it sincere, anthemic rock, which it pretty much is. These guys actually had a really nice stage presence considering their youth, and it was a very entertaining set. They just released an EP last week, from which they took a couple songs, but mostly played tracks from their first album, including the album's penultimate track "Keeping Warm", an eight minute track that they turned into about 11-12 minutes thanks to a rollicking three minute introduction. I'll admit that part of the reason I went to this show was to hang out with the girl who turned me onto them, but the show was pretty good in its own right.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ the Bottom Lounge - 3/13/10

Tough call on whether to go to this show, since it was the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day, which is practically a religious holiday in Chicago, provided your religion requires the consumption of a great deal of alcohol. I skipped the openers to drink with some friends, but I got into the club in time to hear TL/Rx play their first song. Their new album 'the Brutalist Bricks' just came out last week, and it's pure Ted Leo. Elements of punk, power-pop, and a tinge of traditional Irish music combine to make the TL/Rx formula, and it's worked well enough over the last decade that there isn't much reason to change things. Which isn't to say this is just a companion piece to their last album 'Living with the Living'. It's not. And as it's title suggests, it's a little more muscle bound. A little lighter on the hooks that sucked me in on 'Shake the Sheets', a little heavier on the pounding rhythms and desperate vocals (save for One Polaroid a Day).

He played at least eight or nine songs off the new album, and threw in some older tunes for fun, hitting a bit of each album (Timorous Me from 'Tyranny of Distance'; The High Party from 'Hearts of Oak'; Little Dawn from 'Shake the Sheets'; Bottle of Buckie from 'Living...'). A good solid 1:15 of content, which is good from a band that puts so much into each show.

Vampire Weekend is up next in two weeks.