Nylon Music Tour @ House of Blues, Chicago 6/12/08
It had been a while since I had heard the She Wants Revenge song, “Tear You Apart.” Not until the jukebox at the bowling alley (of all places) played it a few weeks ago. I really only knew that song and was unfamiliar with the rest of the band’s catalog. A visit to the She Wants Revenge MySpace page later revealed that they were going to be in town the following week. And the other tracks had potential, or were at least palatable. So I called Justin and asked about reviewing the show, and he got back to me and said the label told me to be there before 6pm. It’s that easy.
“It feels like we just woke up”
Thats what Switches said when they took the stage. There is something distinctly odd about starting a show at 6pm to a venue that is still mostly empty. And it did feel like we did just wake up. When the music started (promptly at 6pm!) the crowd consisted primarily of 17-year-old girls. I hung out with the other four people of drinking age in the bar area.
Anyway, I wasn’t very familiar with this band heading in and had only given a quick listen to a couple of their tracks. The show starts, and for a moment I thought this was a different band. Live, they come across with more power and the songs they played weren’t as delicate. Yeah, the melodies are still intact in there, but they’re seasoned with just enough fuzz and crunch to make it interesting. Add in just a smidge of attitude and swagger, and it was a fun set to watch.
Next up were The Virgins. I didn’t even know who this band was — they just took the stage without any introductions and played. It was an okay set, but nothing to write home about. At times they even looked a bit tentative, almost uncomfortable on stage. Whatever, they’re a newish band so I’ll cut them some slack. That being said, what did I wake up with in my head the next day? “She’s Expensive.” I bought the disc and have been listening to it nonstop since. Funny how these things work out.
“We’re on the Be Your Own Pet list.” That’s what the kids at the next ticket window said, and I didn’t even know they were on the bill. What a pleasant surprise. I’ve been meaning to check them out since “Bicycle, Bicycle” was making the rounds. They were up next and, well…eh. It was a little disappointing. They certainly don’t lack energy on stage, but it didn’t seem like any of it was making it offstage into the crowd. Then there was the occasional heckle, and singer Jemina Pearl dished it right back, although it almost seemed like the comments hit a nerve and she came across more defensive than defiant. It felt a bit awkward. Anyway, in the aforementioned video, there’s a scene where Jemima takes an ice cream cone from a kid and smashes it into his head and then laughs and walks away. That’s kind of how I felt after the show. What a shame. I’ll still continue to dig their recorded work, but just didn’t feel it that night.
By now the place was full and the crowd had a much older and more mainstream feel. She Wants Revenge comes on. My first thought was that they were really polished. There’s always something to be said for musicians who have been around the block a bit and feel comfortable and at home on stage. But most of the set really blurs together in my memory. The pessimist in me would say it was just an unmemorable set. The optimist in me would rephrase that as they found a stylistic niche and are perfectly content to ride that all the way to the end. And to good effect, but nothing really bad or really great happens along the way. Or maybe it is just that after four hours of music, it’s tough to be 100% into it. Until we get to the end and hear the opening notes of “Tear You Apart.” Then the place erupted, presumably because that was what everyone came here to see. Then the house lights were on and it was time to for all the youngsters to go to bed on a school night.
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