On July 8th, I had the awesome opportunity to see one of my favorite bands that I was skeptical I'd ever get to see. Hailing all the way from Scotland, We Were Promised Jetpacks made a stop at Mr. Smalls on their US tour. They of course played last, so I will get to the openers first, who had a big part in making this show the dance party that it turned out to be.
The show started with a local band, from good old Pittsburgh, called Landline. They were a very good choice as an opener, getting them exposure, as well as providing the audience with great music. As Laura and I stood there contemplating what they sounded like, it hit her, "a male version of Heart," and I couldn't agree more. They used a lot of reverb, and the vocals were high and reminiscent of Anthony Green with High and Driving. The songs were original and very well composed and more intricate than one would think of for a simple three piece band.
The next band on the bill was a Brooklyn based band called Bear Hands. These guys were one of the better live acts I have seen in a while. They were comprised of a post rock sound plus the beginnings of a dance party. Each of the four members was multi-instrumental, and very talented. They combined the expected instruments with ones you wouldn't, like floor toms, maracas, and a synth. These guys got the party started and got everyone pumped up for WWPJ.
Speaking of pumped up, there was a group of people who took the time to make WWPJ 2010 shirts, and I will give them that they were the most excited folks in the crowd. And that was a tough thing to do considering the crowd that these bands drew. Laura and I were caught way off guard, with the mixture of bros, moms, and a few dudes with epic staches. But by the time WWPJ started playing, nobody cared who was there surrounding them, we were all absorbed in the amazing music. They opened with my favorite song of theirs, Quiet Little Voices, and that really got the crowd started. After that, and for the rest of their set, the front of Smalls turned into a massive dance party. Everyone was singing along, stomping their feet, dancing, and smiling, because of a few guys from Scotland. It's shows like these where I continue to be baffled by the power of music to bring people together. It will go down as one of the greatest shows I have ever been to, not only because of the amazing music, but because of the collective happiness that the front of Smalls embodied that night.
-Samantha Ritzer <3