Tapes ‘n Tapes, The Subjects & Wild Light @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC (2/26/09)

I’d like to, first and foremost, give everyone the advice of watching opening acts! I don’t care if it’s not “hip” to be prompt… have a drink, make some friends and see those smaller bands that open gigs. They’re the first thing you hear that night so I give them credit and believe me when I say that credit is aplenty when referring to Wednesday night’s inaugural band The Subjects. This Brooklyn native’s debut CD was released back in ’07 and they are currently in the midst of recording their second album (which I’m actually looking forward to). They formed in New York City — two were teachers (Dave Sheinkopf, Joe Smith) and two were students (Jimmy Carbonetti, Matt Iwanusa). Crazy, right? Their sound was unique and reminded me a bit of The Strokes (with Pavement influences), and a few songs, such as “The Hounds of War,” encompassed an almost bluesy sound to them that everyone really seemed to get into. Sheinkopf’s vocals cracked at the high notes but were unbreakable with the swelling backing of vocals. Overall, their set was fantastic for a band I have never even heard of. Definitely a band with a lot of potential.

Bring on Wild Light (and skin tight white David Bowie pants). By the time Wild Light graced the stage, Bowery was plentiful in people. They opened their set with “Red House,” but really caught the crowds attention with “New Hampshire.” You know you’re doing something right when you can get a venue (the majority of them who are there to see a band that’s NOT yours) to sing along without even asking them to. Their lyrics are candid and brought back some small-town memories and plenty of New England pride bubbled inside me. One song seemed to flow into the next and I wasn’t sure if this was a good or bad thing, but I felt the crowd dying down and becoming anxious. “The Party OMG” picked up the pace and truly stood out from the rest of the set. It was if they were trying to find their own sound all night and finally hit the right chord with the crowd. Their hit single, “California On My Mind,” brought in a pop feel with some bittersweet lyrics about the west coast (bittersweet being a more gentle term) and they truly won my heart by the end of “Call Home.” Overall the set seemed rather monotone — songs morphed together one right after the other, but the few mentioned above really makes me believe that Wild Light is a band on the rise. Oh… and this native New Hampshire band’s new record is out on Tuesday. So check that out! Live free or die!

I absolutely adore prompt shows. Everything seemed to be on time and it really kept the crowd happy. A few notes about said crowd: eclectic as all hell! Incredibly chill group, minus a few unnecessary drunk ‘bros,’ and it seemed a little female dominated. Go us! For those who were there, the short balding man in the front who could not cease dancing (never mind watching his attempts to dance with others) was a winning moment. For those who weren’t there — be jealous you didn’t get to dance with that hunk of sweet and sassy moves.

Tapes ‘n Tapes has a knack for definitely drawing in an interesting crowd and for the first time in my life i witnessed a hipster moshpit. “George Michael” truly encompassed it’s own sound and “Hang Them All” really displayed a polished live sound that included some serious sing-along action. The head-bobbing, toe-tapping and full out hipster-moshing slowed down a bit with the first half of “Manitoba,” but with their dynamic and aggressive sound picked right back up at the end and created a fully-loaded rock out session that got everyone’s blood flowing. Almost every song began with the whooping cheers of approval — The opening line of “Headshock” causing a surge in applause: “I was hitting and sowing the tide/For the waiting until you were mine.” “Demon Apple” brought back the hipster-pit of jumping/dancing/giggling/hugging/slight shoving. It was almost obnoxious to watch, but not one body stood still for “Conquest” (and if you say you were still, you are a liar!) If the little balding man in front was rocking out as hard as he was, you had to at least be wiggling your big toe to that catchy gem.

What I find great about Tapes ‘n Tapes is simply their sound. They can take a song, start it off incredibly mellow (almost bluesy at times), bump it up to a more dance/pop beat and then bash it over your face and rock. Aside from the mic being sporadically low, everything else blended perfectly. Kudos to the sound tech! Throw in a handful of new songs and you have yourself an overall fantastic show. The moment that won my heart was “Insistor.” Catchy riffs, fantastic lyrics (“And don’t be terse and don’t be shy/Just hug my lips and say good lies/And know that I will be your bail bond”) and a disco ball. Although the crowd began to clear out around 11:45, Tapes ‘n Tapes still had a few in ‘em and ended with “Just Drums,” but it was the crowd echoing a soccer chant that enticed their return to the stage for an encore that included “Omaha.”

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