with Adelitas Way, Framing Hanley, and MeTalkPretty
Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY
March 24, 2011
Concert Review: Sick Puppies
Swarms of young fans packed the general admission floor of the Gramercy Theatre Thursday night to witness the arrival of Aussie rock trio Sick Puppies. The evening served as a prelude to the future of the modern rock genre, with three up-and-coming acts paving the way for the headliners. And even though New Yorkers are more apt to consume indie rockers in 2011, the crowd absolutely brought the love out on this night.
Outfitted in short-shorts, singer Julia Pretou paraded between the stage and the floor, greeting fans face to face, throughout the 30 minute set of openers MeTalkPretty. The Manhatttan-based band has played dozens of local shows, but is perhaps known best for winning an MTV Video Music Award in 2009 for Best Unsigned Band- NYC. The singer’s shrieking vocals proved a capable complimentary instrument, as the New York crowd seemingly ate up their set with delight, as Pretou’s star shone brightly on her hometown stage.
Concert Review: MeTalkPretty
Next up was Nashville’s Framing Hanley, who rose to relative prominence with their cover of Lil’ Wayne’s “Lollipop” in 2009. Screams of young female fans rang out in adoration as the quartet took the narrow stage- the band proudly declaring that this was in fact their very first time playing in Manhattan. Hanley formed in 2005 in Tennessee, after their demo tracks were discovered by former Creed bassist Brett Hestla (Virgos Merlot, Dark New Day), who brought them into the studio to record a two song demo. One of those tracks “Hear Me Now” would become the band’s true original breakout track, although it would not explode as the band and label had anticipated. Watching their performance live on this night, it appears the young band has already matured a great deal, fluidly harmonizing in both verse and chorus, despite some audio issues as their set began, which the band was unaffected by. Knowing and catering to their young audience, singer Kenneth Nixon aggressively paced the stage, hitting every note his studio performances promised, with a youthful happy to be here graciousness that was as much about playing in New York for the first time, as it was staying true to your roots.
Concert Review: Framing Hanley
Las Vegas five-pieced Adelitas Way followed, led by bearded frontman Rick DeJesus, who similarly were also playing their first show in New York City. Just off the road for seven months, writing and recording their upcoming June release “Home School Valedictorian,” the group didn’t look rusty in the least. DeJesus’ raspy, almost flinty vocals, stood up well during the live performance, perhaps no better than during the debut of new song “I Can Tell.” During the Adelitas set, we did manage to catch our first crowd surfer of the night, as they were arguably the hardest of the four bands on the bill. If we had one bone to pick with DeJesus, it would have to be the excessive onstage cursing during their 45 minute set, and then subsequently singling out the cliché “Where my girls at? Where my fellas at?” chants during the show. Anytime a frontman says “this one goes out to the ladies,” the rest of the crowd does a collective eye roll at each other, if only for the fact that the band was good enough to avoid having to resort to those measures for cheap applause. Their closer “Invincible”, was a pulverizing attack on our ears, and somewhat made up for their prior transgressions in that night’s set.
Concert Review: Adelitas Way
As the clock struck 10pm, the anticipation was palpable, as the house lights went down and the crowd awaited the arrival of Sick Puppies with a frenzied anxiety. The Australian trio only waited momentarily before grabbing their equipment and heading onto the stage, while the crowd exploded. Before long, the familiar bass notes began and the band immediately opened with the catchy “Odd One,” into their most recent single “Riptide.” Their incredibly attractive female bass player, Emma Anzai, sensuously thumping each note to perfection, while the rest of the girls in the crowd became fixated on every word that frontman Shimon Moore annunciated. Throughout the night, Moore, dissatisfied with the crowd response in back of the room, pleased with attendees in seats to stand up and enjoy the show with the standing room patrons. Although most ultimately declined, the response wasn’t for lack of enjoyment of the show. The almost 90 minute set alternated between hard rocking originals, an acoustic set, and covers, including a crowd loving rendition of Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You”, which was a prelude to the slower, catchier originals “Maybe” and “White Balloons.” Just as the crowd had been brought down from an evening filled with energy, Sick Puppies exploded with closer “You’re Going Down,” a thrashing, can’t-sit-still jam that had the entire crowd singing along in unison.
Sick Puppies, as a band formed in 1997 in the music room at an Australian high school, and although they are just starting to find their voice, the band is as cohesive and impressive as any three piece act touring today. Understandably that’s saying something, but it truly is a testament to the band’s ability to relate to their audience and perform fantastically live. Seeing Sick Puppies in concert is reminiscent of catching a band right before they get their big break, and for them we can only hope that that’s what’s coming next.
- Jane Van Arsdale