March 25, 2011

Smoking Popes @ SLO Downtown Brew ~ March 24, 2011

It's all in the voice.

Thursday night I made the trek up to San Luis Obispo from Santa Barbara to check out a pop punk band I had never heard because a friend of mine thought it would be a good present. It was.

The Smoking Popes, a pop punk band from Chicago that features crooner-styled vocals that rival that of Morrissey, played at SLO’s Downtown Brew to an intimate group of fans. The music itself was characteristic of any pop punk band, with an upbeat tempo and fast hard drum beats, but they got you at the heart strings with the vocal delivery and poignant lyrics.

Composed of three brothers and a side kick, the Popes lead the crowd through many sing-a-longs from albums new and old, and made certain to throw in the more upbeat tracks from their latest "This Is Only A Test". Brother Josh rejoiced at the crowd’s participation, noting how “Destination Failure” seemed to be this crowd’s album of choice (based on the shouted requests), then proceeded to sing through “Megan”, “Paul”, and “Pure Imagination” without pause. It was the right combination of new and nostalgic songs.

Sentimental, yet rocking out, the Smoking Popes closed it down with “Pretty Pathetic” and left us glad that they were not.

March 9, 2011

Foster The People @ SOhO ~ March 8, 2011

Bottled and Shakin'.

Foster The People should be bottled and sold as an instant party picker-upper. They cause that much commotion.

The scene was young and excited. The energy was tangible. We Barbarians, a 3 piece indie blues rock band from Long Beach, warmed up the crowd with their upbeat, intensely edgy rock jams. The music was easy on the ears with a gritty edge, heavy drums, and dirty south blues ambience. They kept the crowd moving and left them panting for more.

More came in the form of Foster the People. The place was so densely packed it was impossible to get a spot where you could actually see the band and groove. A decision had to be made - either dance in the midst of the sweaty mob and forget about seeing the musicians at all (one's neck could only strain so far) or admire the artistry of the musicians from afar where one could not only view the band fully, but enjoy the acoustic quality of the music (while possibly enjoying a beverage).

Done. Tucked safely in the back and enjoying being an observer instead of a participant, I took in FTP. They started out with a tribal trance number with heavy percussions, which set the tone for the set. The crowd pulsated to the atmospheric trippy dance pop and completely exploded when they played their radio hit "Pumped Up Kicks" mid set. The crowd was drenched - I noticed from afar. The music finally got to me and I had to abandon my post and join the sweaty mob. The music was infectious, and soon I forgot to watch the band.

Both bands are worth keeping on the radar. Buy stock in FTP if you can.