So the Arctic Monkeys and the Vaccines played in Central Park this Tuesday, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance. Both bands have brand new and (for the latter) debut albums out, and the night was perfect for hearing sounds of fresh music sprinkled through tried and true hits. Altogether it was a great show, but of course not everything went swimmingly. Here are my thoughts…
The Vaccines went on to a half filled venue and seemed genuinely unhappy the entire set. There were obvious reasons for this, though. Their sound was off the entire time, and they had numerous microphone problem the visibly angered the band. Leader Justin Young quipped “This is what soundcheck is for.” after being forced to switch mics for the second time in their half hour set. These audio problems led me to wonder if the Vaccines really belong in a festival type of atmosphere. Their reverb-drenched sound might fill Bowery Ballroom, but out in the open air it definitely had and has less of an immediate impact.
Coupled with the fact that most of the people there had no idea who they were, the band was met with a disappointing lack of interest. I felt this was undeserved, and spent my time singing along and dancing mid-crowd center, surrounded by parents and frat boys punching each other. While I’m sure the first few rows were filled with the converted, that feeling did not carry as far as it should have, and the blame would definitely go to the Rumsey Playfield sound guys for that. The set itself was short, sweet, and—despite the setbacks—fun. The band even managed to squeeze in a cover with a former Minor Threat guitarist Lyle Preslar, which was pretty cool. Anyway, onward to the main attraction!
The Arctic Monkeys seem to have a very diverse fan base, and I believe that says something about the quality of their music. Because I can’t go two posts without mentioning them, the Strokes also have this diverse fan base, along with bands like Coldplay, Muse, and Kings of Leon. I think this speaks to how genuinely talented bands like this are, whether or not you like their music. The artists are smart enough to include something for everyone, and even manage to alter their fans preferences over time. That takes more than bellowing over four chords and looking as chic, cool, or angry as wannabe bands tend to do. These lesser bands also don’t tend to last as long, so when a band or artist gets to enjoy a career they are usually doing something right.
The Monkeys played a fantastic set that included all of their hits and a large sampling of their new LP, Suck It and See. The new album is great, but what most impressed me was how well songs from their last album came across live. I am not a huge fan of Humbug (save “Cornerstone”) compared to their first two albums, but the live versions of its tracks were stunning, especially “Crying Lightning.” I wonder how the album would have sounded if Josh Homme hadn’t gone all ‘super producer’ on it. Probably would have had more of an impact, methinks.
The group was seriously on for the entire set, and their sound was much more prepared for the outdoor venue than the Vaccines. I’d imagine they were given a soundcheck (on account of their headliner status) and if not, they didn’t let it show. The group fired through every song, most of which were blisteringly fast numbers from their first two albums. I like to imagine the rest of the band hating Alex Turner, as they all play at top speed while he croons and darts around the songs lyrically. It’s not as physically demanding, it appears, but I guess he’s allowed that since most of the writing and fame for the group comes from him. All I know is that I got to walk away while “Fluorescent Adolescent” blew everything out of the park, literally and figuratively. That’s really all that matters in the end, isn’t it?