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.