Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Thermals @Brooklyn Bowl, Apr. 20th

Last night, Julie and I checked out Williamburg's Brooklyn Bowl as a concert venue for the first time. Verdict? I highly doubt we'll be returning to see a show there any time soon.

We got there midway through the opening set, this all girrrl band called The Coathangers (great name, btw). We were able to venture easily to the front of the floor and immediately noticed an imbalance in the sound mix. The keyboard's notes pierced through our ears, so we moved back and over a bit and found it marginally better. I first dismissed The Coathangers with their screechy vocals, but after a while found them somewhat charming, full of strut and attitude, and the music itself was not bad with its raw vibe.

(More words and pics after the jump.)

Then, the next band, Past Lives came on. They were more polished, musically speaking, and their lead singer was full of emotion, but for the first part of their set, we could not hear a word he sang. The mix was so poor it seemed like he had laryngitis with his voice barely a whisper above the music. I found myself comparing them to Fugazi with a little Built To Spill thrown in.

Okay, so finally we got to the real reason why we were there, The Thermals, whom I hadn't seen since they opened for Ted Leo at McCarren Pool not too far from the Bowl, 2-1/2 years ago. They played a taught, lean set (see setlist below) that kept the crowd bouncing, even moshing during some favorites. While I don't mind a good mosh, I will say that dumb is the venue that serves drinks in actual glasses rather than the plastic cups you see at other places. Even though I was up front and loved the energy and was psyched to hear the band's new tunes, I found myself cringing and being distracted every time I heard the sound of glass breaking on the floor behind me. And don't get me started on the young weirdos standing around us. I felt like we were at some college campus's Spring Fling concert.

Towards the end of the set, we found the area up front kind of oppressive, so we retreated to the rear by the bar, and found the sound much better back there. I guess they have to mix it so that the sound is not swallowed up in the cavernous space, with the added din of bowling balls knocking into pins. *Shrug* As soon as the show ended, we decided to forgo listening to any possible encore and were simply happy to escape into the cool air with everything intact.

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