Concert review: A girls’ night out with Ed Sheeran (and Foy Vance and Rizzle Kicks) at the Pageant, Saturday, February 2

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more out of place than I did on Saturday night at the Pageant. Ed Sheeran, the 21-year-old British singer-songwriter, whose single “The A Team” has over 50 million views on YouTube, had sold out the venue. To my surprise, the ticket buyers were almost entirely teenaged girls.

I started to realize what I’d gotten myself into at around 4 p.m. when the Pageant posted a photo on Instagram of a group of girls who’d been waiting at the venue since 3 to get in — 3 a.m. in the morning, that is. It looked like one of the lines you see when new iPhones are released, except if Justin Bieber were selling them.

Just to give you a sense of how big Ed Sheeran apparently is, on January 29 he sold out Radio City Music Hall, and starting in March he will open for Taylor Swift on a 69-show tour. He’s also expected to perform a duet with Elton John at this year’s Grammys, where “The A Team” is nominated for “Song of the Year.”

At the Pageant, a good number of people in the crowd wore Ed Sheeran shirts, and a few more held up posters declaring their love. One girl even had to be carried out of the pit by security after she fainted; I should point out that I can’t confirm if that was caused by Sheeran-mania.

Since I had arrived late, I ended up in the back, near the bar. That didn’t present a problem though, because aside from a few boyfriends and dads, the crowd stood about 5’4”. The only time I didn’t have a clear view came during “The A Team” when a blockade of iPhones recording video obstructed my view. So if you want to see what all the Ed Sheeran hype is about, there are probably 500 different angles of the song on Youtube you could check out.

The first opener, singer-songwriter Foy Vance, had a deep Irish accent and even deeper v-neck. His rich voice and acoustic guitar were a bit dull, but pleasant to listen to for half an hour.

Rizzle Kicks reminded me of Kriss Kross, if you remember them. They both wore Cardinals jerseys — one David Freese and the other Stan Musial — and performed what I’d call “bubblegum grime,” after the genre of British hip-hop. Their biggest song, “Mama Do the Hump,” comes with a dance move called “The Hump.” I found it very uncomfortable to watch.

Carrying just a guitar, Ed Sheeran took the stage quickly after Rizzle Kicks’ set. By the end of his second song, I realized that much of the time the notes I heard didn’t match what he was playing. Once, he even put down his guitar and climbed a top the speakers, only for the guitar to keep kicking. I soon learned that no, he wasn’t just lip-syncing the whole set. Ed recorded loops live with a foot pedal at the start of each song, mostly of his backing guitar and beat boxing. Once everything started to make sense, the looping really impressed me.

Musically, Ed Sheeran is actually quite talented. He mixes his singer-songwriter style with hip-hop, kind of like Jason Mraz on “The Remedy” or the Barenaked Ladies on “One Week.” The feverish “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” is the best example of this, especially live because he cut twice to actual rap verses, first Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” and then 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.”

Lyrically though, Ed’s not so good. “I’m gonna paint you by numbers / And color you in,” he sings in “Lego House.” “Maybe you’re my snowflake,” he adds in “Wake Me Up.” I also found it funny that when not about love, the lyrics are mostly about drinking and getting high. I don’t expect many of the parents at the show were too keen on their kids belting out, “I’m still drunk at the end of the night / But I don’t drink like everybody else / I do it to forget things about myself.”

As the show went on, I couldn’t really figure out how a musician who covers Irish drinking songs and tunes by jazz and blues icon Nina Simone could have such a saintlike following amongst teenaged girls. I read his biography a few times, looking for that one moment that would explain why tickets to his sold-out show were fetching over $100 on StubHub, but only found humble beginnings and a lot of hard work (he’s played over 900 shows since 2009). That made me like him even more. Maybe next time he’s in town, I’ll even camp out the night before to get a better spot.

Concert review and set lists: Yo La Tengo and Calexico contrast sounds and styles at the Pageant, Thursday, January 31

Jacob Valenzuela of Calexico at the Pageant. Photo by Nate Burrell.

I arrived at a sedate Pageant night club at around 7:40 p.m. on Thursday and comfortably found a spot on the floor in the front row right up against the railing. With 20 minutes to go before Calexico took the stage, I passed the time by counting instruments.

There were six guitars (seven if you count the pedal steel), 10 microphones, two trumpets, a standing bass, a xylophone, a few pairs of maracas, a few keyboards, an accordion and a drum set. When my game of musical I Spy ended, I turned around to realize that the venue was now almost full. The area in the back of the Pageant by the bar was almost as crowded as the stage.

For the next hour, Calexico somehow managed to use every single instrument they brought with them, playing a game of musical chairs by running around to different spots when the music started and stopped. I think the only members who stayed with the same instrument the whole night were drummer John Convertino (though he did take up tambourine and maracas) and vocalist/guitarist Joey Burns, and even he switched between three different guitars. The set’s opener, “Epic,” was truly that, building to the point where it had so many layers that I really didn’t know who I should be watching play. The Spanish lyrics of songs like “Roka” and “Inspiración” added to the music that’s rightly described as “indie mariachi.”

My favorite song of Calexico’s set was “Fortune Teller,” a fairly new composition with smooth vocals, a tango vibe and ghostly “oohs” throughout that almost echoed the Shins’ “New Slang.” Calexico played an impressive set on all scales, and it was just the perfect length.

As for Yo La Tengo, I think I need to approach the set from two different perspectives. First, I’ll address the show I saw; then I’ll explain what I wish it could have been.

The songs Yo La Tengo chose to play sounded spectacular. At times, Kaplan let loose on his beaten-up guitar and exploded into screeching dissonance; that was simply a joy to watch. I loved that the band decided to invite members of Calexico on stage for a good number of songs, adding trumpets and keyboards to songs that are usually just guitar, bass and drums.

Another one of my favorite moments was Kaplan’s quirky dialogue — including the “parental” advice to not be like Ellie Goulding’s fans and instead to bundle up against the cold — as he introduced the band. “Obviously, we’re old,” he said. “Our bands almost 30 years old. Of course we’re old.” I didn’t realize it when I first got to the Pageant, but Yo La Tengo has been a band a decade longer than I’ve been alive. Kaplan and drummer Georgia Hubley are old enough to be my parents.

So, I don’t want to say I left Yo La Tengo’s set feeling disappointed, but I did feel like it was missing something. I had done some research by reading old show reviews, and each one talked about the unexpectedness and creativity of a Yo La Tengo show. For a few shows last year, they brought a game show-styled wheel on stage and used that to pick what songs they played. I didn’t need that wheel, but I still hoped for a greater sense of spontaneity.

One of two covers played, a rendition of the Nightcrawlers’ “Little Black Egg,” came in the encore and actually turned out to be one of my favorite songs of the night. Another moment of unexpectedness came when I looked over at the merch booth during Calexico’s set only to find Kaplan himself manning the table. As a whole though, instead of the chaotic show I thought I’d get, the set came off as pretty controlled.

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Concert review: Railroad Earth (with WhiteWater Ramble) brings warm Americana sounds to the Pageant, Saturday, January 26

“I look up at blue sky of perfect lost purity and feel the warp of wood of old America beneath me.” An influential passage from “October in the Railroad Earth,” written by Jack Kerouac, sums up the exultant vibe of Saturday night’s Railroad Earth show at the Pageant.

Folks from a variety of walks of life slowly filed into the Pageant with a contagious excitement for the entertainment to come. White collars, blue collars, old hippies and young hippies filled the venue with that certain pleasant energy that you can only find at a good folk show; where the small town ways of old take hold and everybody knows everybody and a new friend is just a glance away. Tall cans of PBR were raised in toast of life, stories and laughter were shared, and the outside world was forgotten for just a little while.

WhiteWater Ramble warmed up the crowd with a slew of stringed instruments and a drummer who kept a solid beat under the watchful eye of a giant psychedelic owl perched in the darkness on the wall behind them. The Colorado-based bluegrass band put on a lively show that sent much of the pit spinning into a swing dancing frenzy, taking them on a journey through extended jam sessions that included an intense battle of a pair fiddlers and a country-style guitar solo that could only be described as “epic” by the younger hippies and “totally awesome” by the older hippies.

Ramble’s powerful finish slowly built up like a locomotive and exploded into a good-old fashion hoedown. Upright bassist, Howard Montgomery, finished his final bars somehow standing atop his instrument, strumming away in a display that much of the audience, judging by the hoots and hollers, had likely never seen before. WhiteWater Ramble band took its final bows and received a boisterous applause, marking the end of the first act.

A concert intermission is always an interesting time to survey the crowd, especially after a set as powerful as one that had just transpired. People wandered around aimlessly, momentarily dazed and confused after the complete sensory overload was turned off like a light switch; the crowd finally realized that it needed to kill 30 minutes before their next dose of decibels. Some went off to procure more ale, others went to check on the Blues game, others reflected on the musical phenomena that had just taken place.

One group sat down in a circle in the middle of the pit with a cocktail placed on top of an illuminated cell phone, creating an almost campfire-like effect; an orange glow poured out from the glass and red stirring straw flames shot out from the top and made for a great way to pass the time waiting for the headliner.

Suddenly the lights dimmed, the fog machines raged and the air became a little more festive. An explosive roar of the crowd greeted the boys from New Jersey, Railroad Earth, as they took the stage. The Americana sound of some 27 collective strings — strung across a mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar, violin and an upright base — accompanied imaginative lyrics and superb falsetto harmonies that reverberated throughout the now fully-packed Pageant.

The psychedelic owl came to life in an incredible multicolor light show that had the mural shifting hues endlessly; the display provided an incredible stage show along with the music. Andy Goessling’s banjo skills stood out the most amongst the lineup of gifted musicians, with fingers of fury plucking away woes and worries as the six-piece band merged individual talents. Railroad Earth’s songs ranged from a smooth, gentle sound that had the audience swaying, to ferocious newgrass melodies that energized fans; we could feel it from the bottom of our souls.

The sounds kept the audience moving and cheering late into the night until the final song was played, and the good thing came to an end. The audience members left that night with smiles on their faces and a great buzz from the show.

Concert review and set list: Bloc Party (with IO Echo) storms back to St. Louis and the Pageant, Saturday, January 19

Bloc Party at the Pageant. Photo by Nate Burrell.

Kele Okereke, the frontman of Bloc Party, has a rock-star swagger about him, a presence unlike most of his peers. At one point during the band’s show at the Pageant on Saturday night, he just stood at the front of the stage, smirking, and the crowd burst into applause simply because he is who he is.

Bloc Party drifted away a bit after the release of its third album, “Intimacy,” in 2008. The album was relatively well received, but the band made it clear after it came out that it felt no pressure or obligation to record a new album in the near future. The band members went their separate ways, most notably with Okereke releasing a solo album in June 2010, and it seemed like Bloc Party was done for good. In August 2012 though, “Four” was released. It wasn’t their best, but its boldness and new sound showed that Bloc Party still had a fire left in them.

IO Echo, a four-piece from Los Angeles, opened for Bloc Party’s first show in St. Louis since 2007. Frontwoman Ioanna Gika led her band onstage at around 8 p.m., wearing a cloak patterned with what looked like palm trees and horses. She was bookended by a bassist and guitarist who had almost identical shaggy, brown hair. Behind her was a drummer who, quite honestly, I didn’t see much of because the cloak blocked most of my line of sight. They played a 30-minute set of murky goth rock that evoked Blondie covering Bat for Lashes.

Bloc Party’s stage setup was nothing more than four colored squares that resembled an Ellsworth Kelly painting mounted on a glowing blue and grey curtain. At around 9:15 p.m., lights started flashing and a few minutes later, the boys from Liverpool appeared. The two best fashion choices came from Okereke, who sported a white Smiths shirt and Matt Tong, who chose to drum wearing just jean shorts, glasses and sneakers.

The first quarter of the set was a bit slow, and besides old favorite “Hunting for Witches,” didn’t really get the crowd going. For the first five songs or so, Okereke spent a bit too much time alternating between swigs from his flask and his water bottle. During the lengthy breaks between songs though, I did notice some unexpected details: Okereke chewed gum; he’s incredibly muscular; and guitarist Russell Lissack had over a dozen pedals lined up in front of him.

Excitement kicked in right around “Banquet” and “Coliseum,” the ninth and tenth songs. Okereke finally settled on a guitar (he had used four different ones to play the first seven songs) and let loose. “We’re just starting to start,” he said at this point. “Hold on.”

“Coliseum” sounded especially good, with a twangy backing guitar and more soulful tone to the lyrics than some of other more raw, alt-punk cuts. “Octopus,” which ended what Okereke called the “first half of the show,” also stood stood out. Okereke put down his guitar, grabbed onto his microphone and turned on a new sass in his voice and motions.

Bloc Party then left the stage — for what could be described as an intermission — and came thundering back with seven more songs. Okereke talked a bit about St. Louis, including the Delmar Ice Festival that had taken place earlier in the day. “We don’t have that,” bassist Gordon Moakes chimed in. “We’ve just got rain. Rain festival.”

“Ares,” the first song of the first encore, was one of the best of the night. The whole night had a bit of a riot-like fire to it, but nothing sounded more like a protest than when the whole crowd joined Okereke to chant “War, war, war, war, I want to declare a war!”

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Concert review: Rock ‘n’ roll excitement with Grace Potter and the Nocturals and Langhorne Slim and the Law at the Pageant, Thursday, January 10

Grace Potter at the Pageant. Photo by Sam Africano.

If Thursday night’s rock show at the Pageant — featuring Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Langhorne Slim and the Law — offers any indication of what this year’s concerts will bring, it’s going to be a fun year.

Langhorne Slim and the Law, a band that has frequented the KDHX studios over the years, kicked off the night with the song, “Bad Luck.” The energy spawned by this salutation was just a precursor to the music they were about to shell out. The band’s 11-song set included several highlights from the 2012 album, “The Way We Move.”

Off stage, singer and songwriter Langhorne Slim personally comes across as having a mellow, peaceful disposition. On stage, however, he is quite the entertainer. His unforgettable performance as a singer and guitar player owes to his physical animation, commitment to every lyric and engagement with the audience. More than once, he sat on the ledge of center stage to get up close and personal with the fans who were packed into the open floor area. I wouldn’t exactly say he dances on stage; rather, he jumps around, leans into the rhythm, kneels down on his knees to deliver his chords and lyrics, and occasionally shakes his head with fiery vocal deliverance. His voice ranges from a graveled desperation to a smooth comfort; the sincerity is present in every word of every song. He experiences the music and gives 110% to the audience. Langhorne Slim’s presentation was nothing short of cool and entertaining.

Band members Malachi DeLorenzo (drums), David Moore (banjo, keys) and Jeff Ratner (bass) all gave a solid performance and offered equally impressive highlights. The keyboard parts shone on “Fire” and “The Way We Move,” while the banjo and upright bass stole the spotlight on “Someday.” The set did include a couple of slower, quieter songs which accentuated Langhorne Slim’s vocal ability, but the majority of the band’s performance was lively and upbeat. Several times they moved into outstanding jam sessions that made the crowd go wild. I thought the banjo strings were going to snap at any second. They nailed the picking work. The set concluded with “Past Lives,” an engaging, interpersonal exploration, leaving us with the final repeated lyrics, “I ain’t dead anymore.” No, Langhorne Slim and the Law certainly is not dead.

Headliner Grace Potter and the Nocturnals brought a high-powered rock ‘n’ roll performance, which perhaps pleasantly surprised portions of the ticket holders. I noticed a few attendees’ expressions when they quickly discovered what a bad-ass Grace Potter is. She embodies the female rock-star persona. She is beautiful with exceptional taste in style and fashion (hence the sparkly jacket, leather skirt and heels last night). Her voice is gorgeous and holds exceptional stamina, all the while she switches between acoustic guitar, Flying-V electric guitar, tambourine and keyboard. She validates every rock song with hair-whipping and dance moves, which she eventually performed barefoot. I have insufficient words to describe how amazing she is.

The band opened with “Paris (Ooh La La)” featuring three electric guitars. The energy in the room progressed, fueled by the Nocturnals’ unending prowess. The band — Potter (vocals, guitar, tambourine, keyboard), Matt Burr (drums), Scott Tournet (guitar, bass) and Benny Yurco (guitar, bass) played about 16 songs from various albums. A few to mention include “Turntable,” “Mastemind,” Ah, Mary,” “Stop the Bus” and “The Divide.” The reeling lead-ins, multiple guitar collaborations and timing with the professional lighting were only a few reasons why this was a terrific show.

Other highlights: Potter crawled across the stage in a feline motion to meet the low-lying guitar players for a dramatic entrance; the strung light bulbs enchanted the room during the chorus of radio hit “Stars”; the bluesy call and answer between the electric guitar and Potter’s voice; a brief but impressive harmonica appearance; and, finally, a great acoustic guitar solo by Benny Yurco.

The encore was everything an encore should be: A cover of Heart’s “Crazy on You,” followed by earlier tune, “Apologies” and the grand finale, the title track of their latest record, “The Lion The Beast The Beat,” an incredible adrenaline rush to close out the night.

Concert review: El Monstero greets the apocalypse with Pink Floyd at the Pageant, Friday, December 21

With 17 bandmates in place and a set-up rivaling anything I’ve seen at the Pageant, Mark Thomas Quinn rode his podium over 30 feet above the sold-out and bustling mass before El Monstero proceeded to expand the meaning of the word “spectacle.”

El Monstero, difficult to define in the first place, is a collection of dedicated musicians, each with numerous band credits to their name — many Urge fans made their presence known during the introductions — that holds down an annual block of shows at the Pageant around Christmas. The difference: These are Pink Floyd tribute shows. These are El Monstero’s signature, for 14 consecutive years and regularly selling out each one.

Without an opener, the supergroup carved out a wide swath of Pink Floyd’s discography — the opening medley captured some of the pre-”Dark Side of the Moon” gem, “Meddle.” The first half of the show was largely built around Roger Water’s thesis, “The Wall.”

Fully included were multiple classic scenes from the film to the delight of everyone, especially those who’ve made a lopsided trade for a chocolate Snak-Pak in the interest of avoiding Salisbury steak. The opening, an excellent vision of character Pink’s delusional fascist concert, replete with a horsewhip, knee-high boots and the El Monstero stasi — armed only with spotlights tonight — elicited a borderline unsettling feeling. It was only amplified by the fact that so many moving parts truly commanded attention.

“Another Brick in the Wall” allowed the few who hadn’t completely been entranced yet the opportunity, as the stark contrasts of the night began. Lasers, built to approximate the calm of a lake, were interrupted by enough pyrotechnics to put a WWE headliners entrance to shame. “Young Lust” allowed a specific, professional group their exotic turn at the forefront, as well as at symmetrical poles adorning either end of the stage. While a ballet dancer temporarily afforded a reprieve to the mothers in attendance, a pig on stilts resembling Rich Uncle Pennybags corrupted the pole shortly thereafter, and marked the start of the industry evisceration, “Have a Cigar.” Advice to future attendees: Secure a spot in the pit before this happens.

After the break, El Monstero got back into its full tilt with an immaculate performance of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” The crowd’s astonishment at aerial contortionist Meg, donning diamonds herself, was palpable. Dave Farver’s table top saxophone solo from the first tier faithfully brought it home.

The second half of the show heavily featured a start-to-finish recreation of the touchstone album “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Emphasizing the signature crunch of each riff and that unparalleled longing for another that Pink Floyd conveys, El Monstero nailed every bit. “Us and Them,” and “Breathe,” were particularly well-received. Special consideration goes out to the three ladies who belted out “The Great Gig in the Sky.” As anticipated a moment in the night as any, the applause rose as soon as they were seen leaving their perch against the set background. Ms. Tandra Williams, once arriving at her rightful place front and center with a microphone, quickly made any other thought obsolete.

A short encore allowed the band to circle back to the few necessities that hadn’t been done yet, and allowed “Wish You Were Here” to easily become a favorite of “Night One,” as guitarist Jimmy Griffin described this night, the only show scheduled before the Mayan apocalypse. After ending on “Comfortably Numb,” the band afforded fans one more memory, adding a shower of pyrotechnics before making the night’s final exit from the stage.

El Monstero: Pigocalypse continues at the Pageant through December 29, 2012.

Concert review: The Urge (with Murder City Players and Disturbing the Peace) gets more than hectic at the Pageant, Friday, November 16

Steve Ewing of the Urge. Courtesy of

On its first show of three, the Urge sold out the Pageant and provided a wild evening of ska-punk, reggae, sweat and booze.

Disturbing the Peace opened promptly and rocked the audience hard with the night’s most metal set. “Mission” featured wall-of-sound guitar distortion. Rob Tweedie offered a set of pipes that sounded like Brandon Boyd from Incubus. “Hyperballad” rose from post-rock ashes and blew up with keys and a quirky self-reliant metaphor.

From the balcony of the Pageant, I watched the old-school, reggae-infused Murder City Players. The band consisted of a saxophonist, trombonist, trumpeter, keyboardist, bassist, drummer, guitarist and two vocalists.

The dual vocals provided a nice dollop of energy which complemented the instrumental skanking. Mark Condelliere (aka Tony Rome) appeared about halfway through the group’s set to assist black-hatted Prince Phillip. Both men danced and cheered at the swaying crowd, happy to set the stage for the Urge with reggae tunes ranging between covers and originals.

Soon, after an introduction by Cardinals third baseman David Freese, lead-vocalist Steve Ewing appeared on stage with the rest of the Urge as the crowd chanted some unintelligible call to arms. Karl Grable’s triumphant bass glinted under the house lights.

“Take Away” from 1996′s “Receiving the Gift of Flavor” sparked the Urge’s set as the packed mosh pit undulated. The song dripped with Grable’s wandering bass, Matt Kwiatkowski’s trombone and Bill Reither’s saxophonist. The Urge galloped around the stage during the song’s break downs, jumping wildly, pushing the mosh pit up toward maximum riot-swirl. “Don’t Ask Why” was full of angsty power rock that chilled-out during the horn-lead verses.

Ewing’s vocals remained crisp throughout “Brainless,” which featured a Gravity Kills-style, stabbing, “siren” guitar part. On the OG track “Going to the Liquor Store” from 1992′s “Magically Delicious,” the crowd lit-up singing the chorus along with Ewing, reveling in the idea of getting majorly hammered and fucking shit up.

Ewing introduced “Hollywood Ending,” a new song, which is planned to appear on the Urge’s next record. The song played frenetic with a tight chorus that mirrored much of the Urge’s work on 2000′s “Too Much Stereo,” which gave me the impression that the Urge plans to pick up right where it left off before its demise in 2001.

“Say a Prayer” from “Too Much Stereo” opened with vocals and guitar then morphed into a dubbed-out, existentialist, religion study complete with “Hey’s” from Ewing and tight drumming from John Pessoni. “Dirty Rat” brought the show to total punk rage. The pit swirled, a couple kids got knocked out, the cops ejected the sweaty perps and the show continued, the Urge not missing a beat, pushing the crowd toward frenzy despite the dangerous spin of the pit.

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Concert review: Delta Spirit, JEFF the Brotherhood and Fidlar roll out the rock at the Pageant, Thursday, November 15

Fidlar opened the night to a thinly gathered crowd. While super tight and fun to watch, I just couldn’t get over their similarity to Jay Reatard’s entire back catalogue.

I’m not one to judge a band based on its influences, but there seems to be so many bands out there right now that sound like Wavves — it’s dispiriting. Fidlar did one up the aforementioned slacker kings by favoring a more punkish yelling in several songs versus the lazy slurring vocal delivery. I think I would have given Fidlar more of a chance had I seen them in a dive bar or a basement, where the energy can really be felt and numbers don’t matter. That being said, the band’s expression of adolescent rage seared the few who ventured into the Pageant‘s pit. The band seems to be playing what they want and not getting too hung up about how it turns out, so good for them.

I’ve been listening to JEFF the Brotherhood virtually nonstop for the past year. Blending the sound of Weezer’s “Blue Album” and Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” the brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall still forge a sound of their own. Falling somewhere between a goofy, eternal party spirit, and a fuzzy-eyed blur, JEFF the Brotherhood always sounds like its having a good time. Utilizing a three-stringed guitar in front of a mountain of Emperor cabs, vocalist/guitarist Jake manages to make powerful tones that would be difficult for even three guitars to accomplish.

The Nashville duo opened with the crunchy two-chord riffage of “Hey Friend” from last year’s “We Are the Champions.” Given the largeness of its arena-ready songs, the band didn’t feel terribly out of place in the hugeness of the Pageant. Playing an equal number of selections from their most recent “Hypnotic Nights” and “We Are the Champions,” the group stuck true to performing what its fans wanted to hear, even including “Noo Sixties” from 2006′s “Castle Storm” album. I’ll definitely be present the next time JEFF the Brotherhood — one of the best live bands out there right now — rolls into town.

I really wish I could have caught the headliner, Delta Spirit, back before it broke. I don’t believe a band can be said to sell out anymore — especially given the mess that is the music business and the inescapable presence of music pirating — but a certain rock-star attitude comes at a price. I’m a big fan of Delta Spirit’s recorded material, which is solid roots/indie rock that stands out above the pack of ’70s rock revivalists. Live, the band tells a different story.

Delta Spirit performed effortlessly tight versions of its studio work, but the light show and the band’s presence killed the mood for me. Lead man Matthew Vasquez constantly demanded crowd participation, throwing his arms up for applause and asking for the audience to clap along. The result was something a little too freakishly close to a Coldplay concert — and that includes the ego stroking on stage. Delta Spirit’s set was definitely the full-show experience, what with the room filling up out of nowhere. (Though I have to wonder: How can so many people reconcile buying a ticket and skipping out on a solid, full bill?)

In the end, a 50-foot-tall backdrop with the band’s name emblazoned across it and a light show that obscures every musician sans the lead vocalist is not my idea of a good time. Maybe it’s just not my scene, and maybe I’m being elitist and completely out of touch with what most people want from a rock show — and the crowd at the Pageant clearly loved the headliner’s set — but I’d rather see a good band like Delta Spirit not try so hard and just play music.

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