Friday, June 4, 2010

Wakey! Wakey! at Bowery Ballroom 5/20/2010

I was most worried that I would be the oldest in a sea of tweens as I made my way to Bowery Ballroom for the Wakey! Wakey! show. After all, frontman Mike Grubbs appears on The CW's One Tree Hill, or so I'm told...really! Luckily, the crowd was your usual mix of legal-aged yuppies and hipsters.

Not many people know about Wakey! Wakey! but almost everyone asks about them whenever I'm playing one of their songs. They are no doubt purely pop, but actually using real instruments (instead of a MacBook) to play music make them unique in today's game. Plus, almost all their hooks don't include any words and are sung on an arbitrary vowel, so they are easy to sing along to. I was really looking forward to this show.

But Grubbs and crew just didn't deliver. I thought their playing was lazy and uninspired. Their openers The Spring Standards definitely showed them up as far as audience engagement. They opened with "1876 - The Brooklyn Theatre Fire," my favorite track off their record Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said the Last Time I Saw You. This song is sad and sweeping and had an epic quality to match its title...on the recording. Live it just fell flat. In fact, most of their songs just weren't as good as they sound on Almost Everything... I realize that most people are going to sound better in a studio, but they way you make money in today's scene is selling tickets to shows, and no one is going to come see you play if they can listen to better versions of your songs at home.

Grubbs would be better if he had better people behind him. His band looks like a bunch of white kids with almost no personality (disclaimer: I can make this judgement because I too, am a white kid with almost no personality). The most awkward was the multi-instrumentalist/background vocalist. At one point, she started doing what I think was dancing. It was hard to watch.

So much can be said for his band, but Grubbs also needs to step up his game. When everyone else left the stage to let him do his solo thing, Grubbs said he had been listening to Beach House a lot lately (I think I'm the only one who hasn't). Then, he pulled out a sheet of paper and proceeded to cover "Zebra." I'm certain that paper had lyrics and chords on it. I'm all for covers but at least learn the song first. Playing while looking at a sheet of paper makes me feel like I'm at a rehearsal.

"Twenty Two" was definitely the highlight of the night, but that isn't saying much. I left early. Too bad. I guess I was expecting something amazing, like this video:

Photo courtesy of The Examiner.

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