Bleachers w/ Wild Cub – Concert Review

Bleachers w/ Wild Cub
Crystal Ballroom
11.07.2014

IMG_2363Following the release of arguably one of the best indie pop albums of the year, Bleachers put on one of the most fun shows to hit Crystal as of late. Jack Antonoff and crew put on quite an amazing show, and by the crowd reaction, you could tell everyone was in agreement.

Bleachers, in case you weren’t aware, is the seperate-from-Fun. project of Jack Antonoff. Though he still remains in the band (Fun. are working on a new album as we speak), Jack has been working on the Bleachers project for quite some time, and just the beginning of this year, dropped the debut record, Strange Desire.

As part of the project’s headlining tour, Bleachers made a stop at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, bringing along indie quintet, Wild Cub, for the ride.

The last time we saw Wild Cub, they were playing a packed Sellwood Park for 94/7’s Pet Aid 2014, alongside NONONO, The Colourist, Skaters, and Bear Hands. After seeing there live potential there, I was excited to see how they performed in a standard venue setting. Kinda sad to say… they didn’t live up to the bar they set at Pet Aid. It could’ve been the fact that there were a few difficulties at the beginning of their August performance, and it seemed a majority of that energy came from Keegan (lead singer) trying to redeem these. It’s not to say that they didn’t do well. They still gave a solid set to open up for the main act, however they just didn’t deliver the same amount of energy I remember them giving. I know they have such a huge potential in live shows. Luckily, we’ll be seeing them again next month for their own headline show. Perhaps, with a crowd there for them, they can bring back that energy I know they have stored somewhere.

Where the crowd didn’t go absolutely insane for Wild Cub, they made up for any lost energy by bring their top game for the night’s headline act. Everyone was there for Bleachers, and you could tell by the reaction Jack got as soon as he stepped out onto the stage. The crowd was wild for it as they opened up their healthy set with the opening track of Strange Desire, “Wild Heart”. Once Jack and the rest of the live band set the standard for what to expect for the rest of the night, they never fell below it.

With only one album released, Bleachers were able to play 10 out of the 11 songs on Strange Desire. After opening up with “Wild Heart”, Jack and the rest of the live band powered through “Shadow”, my favorite track, “Like A River Runs”, and more. One of the highlights of the set for me was their song “Take Me Away”, featuring Grimes. Though Grimes wasn’t there, the live sampling and haunting melodies made for a beautiful piece of the set.

Throughout the show, I was constantly pleased by the lighting. Though there were no fancy laser beams or anything of that sort, the lighting was well designed for the show.

As I said before, the audience reaction was a beautiful thing. I find joy in watching a crowd become that enthralled with the music, and it wasn’t lost with Bleachers. With fan favorite tracks like “Roller Coaster”, and of course, the encore and most played, “I Wanna Get Better”, the entire crowd was in full on dance mode, making full use of the Crystal’s bouncing floor while singing every word.

And, of course, I have to put in a good word for Mr. Antonoff himself, and his majestic handling of the guitar. No question, Jack is one of the most talented guitarists in indie pop/rock right now. He helms it at the live shows too, blowing us away with his power. It’s quite a thing to see, and not something you’ll want to miss the next time around.

So, whether it be another Bleachers run, or a new album tour for Fun., next time Jack Antonoff hits town, you’ll know, and you should go!

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