Monday, March 15, 2010
Tonight was the kind of show that I love to write about. I had no idea what to expect from Muse except some Radiohead comparisons I had heard and the abundance of skinny jeans and hair dos that suggest they are popular amongst the kids. It was kind of like seeing a movie that people have told me was good without having even seen a preview. I wasn't sure if they were worthy of playing the recently renamed Bridgestone Center, the local enormo-dome, but they drew a pretty good crowd, more than Green Day by my estimation. From the Pepe Le Pew hipsters to the cool Joe Six Pack and his girlfriend next to me, the kids seem to love them some Muse.
The opening band was an emo 4-piece called The Silverspun Pickups. They were Webster's definition of mediocre. The drummer was energetic as he could be but even that couldn't get the crowd to bob their heads even the slightest bit. Sure there was the obligatory applause after every song, but during the numbers, not one fist in the air, not one teeny girl scream, not so much as an ass out of a seat. Not even in the very front row. They seemed like they were pretty into their songs, even a little proud that they had written them, but they sucked. My God did they suck.
After a stint on the smoking line and a fresh beer, I made my way to my seat and noticed that the stage was set but there seemed to be a lack of any musical equipment whatsoever. The only things on stage were three skyscraper looking props. When the lights went down and the show started with "Uprising", I was excited to see what they had in store. With the first notes, the covers came off of the props and each member of the band was positioned atop a riser that was previously a skyscraper. All in all it was a pretty cool setup, which raised and lowered periodically throughout the night, something I had never seen before. The light show was spectacular with a mix of your run of the mill arena lights mixed with lasers flooding the hazy room and bouncing off of the back walls. The screens in the back ground showed random flashes of unidentifiable images and brief shots of the band, giving no competition to the amazing lights.
Like I said before, the three piece Muse is often compared to Radiohead, although I would tend to differ. This band made the most of their trio by playing real instruments, even if a lot of the sounds were from a mostly hidden fourth member keyboardist. The drummer did a great job of filling in the extra space with Larry Mullin-esque drum lines and the singer/guitarist had a certain Bowie/Bono bravado that made his vocals boom, as opposed to the Thom Yorke wail whine. The guitar sounds were strong and unique, much different than your typical Les Paul-ocaster tones you usually hear from most current popular bands. I was too far away to see the brand of guitar but I could tell that I had never seen anything like them before. The bass player was adequate. That's it, adequate. Lisa Simpson would give him a "Meh". I guess everyone can't be spectacular. I will give him props for the short solo in which he and the drummer spun around on the center riser while he strummed intricate chords in overdrive while the drummer wailed. The one song I recognized was the one with the chorus "I want it now." I guess I've either heard it on the radio or seen it in a Mountain Dew ad on T.V. The show climaxed with a rousing version of "Plug In Baby" complete with huge eyeball balloons dropping from the sky and bursting with confetti. Truly a mohawk raising experience.
Over the course of the night I went from "this sounds an awful lot like Blur" to "is this a Cher song?", all the while bobbing my head and tapping my foot and loving it. I didn't know what to expect but I did know that everyone I had talked to about this band had nothing but good things to say, even some of my most musically opinionated friends. I also know that they didn't disappoint. This show was pretty awesome, from the lights, to the stage, to the music and performance. I can almost guarantee that this show was heads and shoulders above the AARP-fest Clapton show that I got shut out of, choc full of energy and feeling and no one behind me telling me to sit down.