Arctic Monkeys, Young Buffalo House of Blues August 3, 2011
See the Arctic Monkeys' chav-y chic in our slideshow.
Five years since their first stateside splash in February 2006 with their debut Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, we've watched the Arctic Monkeys grow into a sturdy, finely tuned rock band. At their sold-out House Of Blues Wednesday night, they went above and beyond into pure metallic bliss.
As our photog Marc Brubaker put it during their "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" from this year's Suck It And See, they are playing firmly from the crotch now. We heartily agree, as did the teener who was making laps from over the gates at the front of the house and back into the crowd for the first five songs or so.
Openers Young Buffalo (right) from Oxford, Miss., are a great indie trio, mixing the right bits of dance and jangle into their set. The guys don't look a year of 20 a piece, and their bassist and singer looks like beardo Dennis Wilson from his Pacific Ocean Blue days. They actually mixed elements of spacier Beach Boys and the more lively Local Natives stuff.
The Monkeys came out to The Guess Who's "American Woman" and girly shrieks, dressed like the kind of denim-clad rockers and leathery greasers who would pick fights with the Mods in Quadrophenia. Lead singer Alex Turner was sporting a proper ducktail, and from the proper angle he struck a proper Cavern Club-era George Harrison pose.
"Library Pictures" from Suck It And See opened, a whirling dervish of a cut that stirred the crowd's pot (literally too) before launching into the strobes and blinding lights of "Brianstorm" from 2007 sophomore disc, Favourite Worst Nightmare.
Storms and mania figure heavily into the Monkeys' mix, with "Brianstorm," "She's Thunderstorms" and the spy-movie theme-ripping "Crying Lightning", one of only two tracks off 2009's dark and ominous Humbug to make an appearance in the set list. They have beefed up the early stuff from Whatever to fit their new direction, though the pop-culture charm of "I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor" remains.
If you had walked into the show last night expecting the same band from five years ago, you wouldn't recognize the sounds unless you were waiting for the debut singles. We were talking to a guy outside who was making the case that he missed that early stuff because it was more relatable, which we can see. It was coming from teenagers who were prone to fits and confusion.
But part of the fun of watching the Monkeys now since forever has been observing the journey from Whatever to someone as snaky and bare as Suck It And See. Their growing pains haven't been cringe-worthy or out of left field, though in 2006 we never thought that five years later we would be hearing Cream and Black Sabbath in their sound. We expected an Oasis-style implosion, not a jam-metal band with a Kinks jones.
Also, they are very, very loud now.
Personal Bias: We've been fans since we first saw their sneering faces in chav-y hip-hop clothes and Fred Perry on MTV in 2006, with their guitars held high on their bodies. Also, we took this picture of Turner eating a Popsicle back in at ACL in 2007.
The Crowd: Hella happy and extremely exuberant for a House of Blues show. They only threw one beer bottle at Turner and a few cups and shirts. It was a sold-out show, which surprised us, considering that the band isn't entirely en vogue at the moment, but fuck da' charts, we want this band around.
Overheard in the Crowd: Dude outside after the show yelled "Motorhead!" at us as he was filing out from the gig. Not sure if the band reminded him of Lemmy and company, or if we just give off that vibe. Maybe it's the mole we glue on every time we go to shows. Either way, cheers.
Random Notebook Dump: Our best anecdote from our Monkeys experience was in 2007 when we wrote a blog or something on the band, and our late grandfather remarked to the family, "Damned if I know what an Arctic Monkeys is or does, but they sound like a lot of fun."
Library Pictures Brianstorm This House Is a Circus Still Take You Home Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair Pretty Visitors She's Thunderstorms Teddy Picker Crying Lightning Brick by Brick The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala The View From The Afternoon I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor Potion Approaching All My Own Stunts If You Were There, Beware Do Me a Favour When The Sun Goes Down
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