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Thursday, 01 November 2012 11:17

Concert review and set list: The Whigs wig out at the Firebird, Tuesday, October 30

Concert review and set list: The Whigs wig out at the Firebird, Tuesday, October 30 facebook.com/thewhigs
Written by Robin Wheeler
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On Tuesday night the Whigs' frontman Parker Gispert came out kicking before a sparse but engaged audience at the Firebird. Literally kicking.

During show opener "Already Young" he flailed around the stage, kicking one long leg to the side as the song spun into a tight and dense climax complete with all the fast strumming, feedback and thunder drums the Athens, Ga. trio could produce. This might come off as arena rock gimmicks from any other band, but it's authentic for the Whigs. With their amalgamation of every era of rock, the shenanigans fit the music in a night low on banter and bullshit.

With "Waiting," from the band's new album "Enjoy the Company," the Whigs delved into the hooky bass and beats that make girls dance right through another giant finish.

The band sampled from its four-album catalog, including "Technology" from the 2005 debut. Brimming with crunchy guitar and howled vocals underscored with smart lyrics and a simple, solid beat, this sound would have filled the room in 1993. It's not that the Whigs sound dated; it's just that straight-forward rock like this has been a rarity for the past two decades since J Mascs perfected melodic noise.

New single "Staying Alive" veers into older territory, marrying '70s Southern rock and funk escalating into a giant, mid-song jam sustained to the bursting point before ending with a quiet mantra from Gispert: "Staying alive. Staying alive. Staying alive."

Despite the strength of such new songs, the tunes from 2008's breakout album, "Mission Control," still bring the most excitement from band and audience. The Whigs kept the album's opening tracks, "Like a Vibration" and "Production City" paired. And why shouldn't they? The high energy, volume and uniqueness of the songs remains one of the best album sequences of the past few years. Live, they bring the audience in, bouncing in unison. New track "Couple of Kids" slipped before a return to "Mission Control's "Right Hand on My Heart," a stacked feedback jam that rattled concrete, sounding exactly like what it was -- the beginning of the end.

"Dying" started as a barren dirge with harmonies from Gispert and bassist Timothy Deaux, again turning chaotic and repeated: "Someone better come speed up your heart 'cause it's dying." With the message made, the dirge got frantic, grounded by Julian Dorio's kick drum while the guitar and bass whirled into a frenzy that didn't pause until set closer "Need You Need You" slammed shut.

For the encore the Whigs ditched the frenzy for beachy new song "Gospel." Filled with pop guitar hooks, clever lyrics and catchy phrasing, the song picks up where "Mission Control" left off. A bit of sweetness before closing with anthemic "In the Dark," which opened with a blast of feedback, sustained by a rolling rhythm eventually joined by the guitar and bass into one last, post-midnight explosion of destructed noise.

Set list:

Already Young
Waiting
Rock and Roll Forever
Black Lotus
Technology
Staying Alive
Nothing Is Easy
Like a Vibration
Production City
Couple of Kids
Right Hand on My Heart
Half the World Away
Dying
Need You Need You

Encore:
Gospel
In the Dark

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