We wandered up and Young Veins frontman? Ryan Ross was standing outside, trying to get in. The Studio smelled strongly of Lysol, which I’m taking as a good sign. This late in the year, coat check is closed, but there’s a coat rack. We hide the nice coats under the cheap coats. I actually quite like this venue. It’s small, reception is decent and drinks are reasonably priced!
I also like that the basement at Webster is a little warren of lounges and powder rooms and cafe tables, which makes it a haven for parents! Downside: it warms up when it gets full, which is bad when you are wearing an acrylic sweater, like me.
We stake out a spot in the back by a bench! I like benches! Within moments, we are surrounded by Jon Walker, of The Young Veins, Tom Conrad, of Empires, and Alex Suarez, of Cobra Starship, all separately having conversations with people. It’s distracting as hell.
Bad Rabbits: Like Foxy Shazam, the headliner, this band is seriously entertaining. Think Gym Class Heroes in the 1970s. This band has a sincere appreciation of their funk roots, and they’re having fun up there, which is more than I can say about most bands. That alone makes them fun to watch. Bonus: their frontman is a FRONTMAN. For all he dresses like Mos Def, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone came out with a cape to drape on him.
Bad Rabbits are done and the first band’s frontman? is still at the bar. This doesn’t bode super well.
But I have a moment to talk to you about the crowd! It is random. There are several pompadours, a couple of guys in skinny hipster suits, a couple of guys in proper banking business suits, a lot of guys that would look right at a funk revival show in Brooklyn, white dudes with shaggy jewfros and track jackets in intentionally dated colors.
The Young Veins: The soundcheck does not fill me with hope. The teenaged fans shriek when Ryan appears and when he soundchecks his mic, it sounds like pre-pubescent Bob Dylan being punched in the gut.
I would like to describe their asthetic as This Is Ivy League with a drinking problem, but that makes no sense. Did you ever read Harriet the Spy, where her best friend’s dad is an alcoholic sportswriter in the 1960s? This is probably how he looked at work. A little too thin for his suits, hair a little straggly, just enough to start whispers around the office. Also, it looks like Jon Walker bought his suit before his wasting disease sets in.
They are better than I expected! The harmonies need a little tightening up, but it helps that they got a lot of really confident musicians (ex-Bright Eyes, ex-Tilly and the Wall, unless that’s the same guy. I can’t remember) to fill it out. Also, my grandma would yell because Ryan is chewing gum while he sings. The songs are pleasant and diverting, like the background of a film set in the 60s. But, tucked between the funk stylings and high energy of Bad Rabbits and Foxy Shazam? Ryan is currently asking us to slow dance. For. Reals. They would be an excellent opener for Rilo Kiley or Feist, perhaps. The trouble with what’s left of the emo scene (i.e. Crush Management, the thing these bands have in common), is that they aim everything at their established emo/pop-punk fanbase, built on the backs of Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco. But when bands come along that are good in different ways, they make no effort to market them out in those spaces. They just shove them at the teenagers until it sticks, or doesn’t, and then move on. By which I mean that it is likelier that they will open for Gym Class Heroes than Feist.
Anyway, the net net here is that I would kill for a seat right about now. This is sitting music. And after Bad Rabbits, it’s jarring.