Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks with Typefighter and Bad Veins at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 13 February 2010

By on Tuesday, 16th February 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

After the La Roux show scheduled for last Wednesday (10 February) was postponed to 25 July due to the latest round of snow here, I was so worried about the We Were Promised Jetpacks boys making it safely to the States that I sent them a Tweet to check on them. Wednesday night they Tweeted me back from New York with the following exultant message: “don’t worry, we made it in yesterday!” Single gals like me wince just thinking about Valentine’s Day. This year however I was really, really chuffed because I knew I’d forget all about this when captivated by the Scottish rockers the night before V-Day, rocking out to their tunes at a sold-out show at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in Northeast. They’d played an opening slot here last October with comparatively older veterans of the music scene, Fat Cat labelmates Brakes and the Twilight Sad. But Saturday night, the Jetpacks were headlining.

First up on the night were Typefighter, a local Washington folk/pop quintet that looked and sounded oddly like Fanfarlo. This description is not intended to be a dig at either band; I just thought it was eerie for two bands to be playing such similar music, with four guys and a girl multi-instrumentalist / backing vocalist, having been put together separately but divided by an ocean. Speaking of oceans, Typefighter enjoys singing about them, as evidenced by the song ‘Ocean Floor’. Another great song is ‘Worth the Wait’, featuring the banjo and lead singer Ryan McLaughlin‘s twangy, countrified, folky voice. Given the popularity of Fanfarlo, Mumford and Sons and Noah and the Whale, I imagine they would do extremely well in Britain. They’re currently unsigned but I imagine with their promising talent, they’ll be scooped up soon.

Bad Veins, a duo from Cincinnati, Ohio, played second. I’ve seen some duos at the RnR come up with some ingenious solutions to only having two members. In Bad Veins’s case, they employ a third “member”, an antiquated reel-to-reel tape player they’ve christened ‘Irene’, and Irene comes through with orchestration that would of course be impossible with just two humans. And as if having Irene wasn’t enough, singer Benjamin Davis also employs a telephone setup, so he can sing into the receiver and the resulting sound is just like you’d imagine someone singing to you down a telephone line. The backbeats are courtesy of drummer Sebastian Schulz, whose driving rhythms along with Davis’s vocals and guitar combine to make some great sounding rock. I thought hard about how to describe what they sound like – the drumming is as manic as Keith Moon’s in the Who, but Davis’s vocals on top can be angsty as Glasvegas’s James Allan but can sometimes be shouty.

Half past 11, so that meant it was finally time for We Were Promised Jetpacks, the band I had come all this way to see. I was bouncing off the walls the day in December when their first North American tour was announced. The band is so powerful instrumentally live and lead singer/guitarist Adam Thompson‘s vocals are so cutting that this is not a band you can watch and simply sit and stare. There is something so incredibly liberating to singing along to ‘Quiet Little Voices’ playing in your bedroom. But it’s incomparable to the effect of the “oh oh ohs!“, multiplying the feeling a couple thousand times when you’re stood in front of Thompson, singing along with him and the other similar-minded fans squeezed into a tiny club like the RnR. Fantastic.

While stage banter is not the band’s forte, Thompson thanked the appreciative crowd for their applause between songs, and he must not have forgotten being mocked in October for being from Scotland (an audience member then equating Scotland as if being out in the wilderness with no running water) because when asked to tell a Scottish joke, he responded good-naturely with a wry smile, “a Scottish joke? Fuck off!” This of course caused everyone in the club to laugh.

But we weren’t there to laugh, we were there to be rocked by the Jetpacks. The band powered through 10 songs, with ‘It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning’ and ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ being major highlights for me. The set also included two new ones that might be on a new EP, but I can’t tell you for sure because it’s not on Fat Cat Records’s Web site yet, and the merch table was gone by the time the show was over and I couldn’t find any of the band to ask them about the new release. (The disappearing merch table is one of the few complaints I have about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, as I couldn’t get Miike Snow merch last September there either.) In short: it may have been Valentine’s Day, but thanks to this amazing show, I walked out into the cold Washington night with a spring in my step.

After the cut: photos and set list.


Typefighter Photos:

Bad Veins Photos:

We Were Promised Jetpacks Set List
Keeping Warm
Quiet Little Voices
Moving Clocks Run Slow
New song (possibly on new EP?)
New song from new EP
It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning
Roll Up Your Sleeves
This is My House, This is My Home
Ships with Holes Will Sink
Short Bursts

We Were Promised Jetpacks Photos:

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[…] alluded to in my Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel gig review last month, I couldn’t buy this EP at the show because the merchandise table had disappeared from its […]

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