Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cut Copy -- Abbey Pub, Chicago, IL

When it’s 6:30 in the evening and still as light out as it was three hours ago, the last thing you really want to be doing is sweating to death inside a small venue, waiting for an opening band to appear on-stage. But, when the bands in question are Australian indie-dance favorites, Cut Copy, and blog buzz juggernaut, Black Kids, do you really even have a choice? I didn’t think so either, which is why I chose to attend their early show at the Abbey Pub on May 7, the later show having been sold out for the past few weeks.

With sunlight streaming in from the large windows near the merch table, I felt a little weird drinking a beer and people-watching before the show started. To me, hipsters are like vampires, and seeing them out and about in droves during the early evening hours was a bit of a shock. Who knew plastic thrift store grandma glasses diverted their eyes from the sunlight so well?

Black Kids - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

Black Kids took the stage promptly at 6:30, with singer/guitarist Reggie Youngblood mumbling “We love you” into the microphone, as they tore into a new song from their soon to be released debut album, Partie Traumatic. For all the buzz Black Kids have amassed, the crowd didn’t seem to care much, as I only counted roughly four people nodding their heads along to the music. Maybe they were a bit startled by the HUGE tour bus parked outside the Abbey Pub. I guess signing to Columbia Records does have immediate perks.

Black Kids - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

Regardless, I don’t blame the crowd for their blasé reaction. Black Kids were, for the most part, a huge disappointment. Hype is a tricky thing, but when certain websites have billed your band to be a mixture of The Go! Team, Arcade Fire, and, uh, Motown, you better fucking bring it each night. Don’t get me wrong, Black Kids played well together and appeared to be having fun on-stage, but it was even more clear in a live setting just how much they’re cribbing their sound from their influences. Let’s just say Reggie Youngblood owes Robert Smith a hefty check for stealing his vocal style. And those backing vocals? Please Kids, Prince was doing that shit back when you were the Black Babies. As much as I enjoy Black Kids’ catchy pop sound, I wasn’t sad to see them walk off-stage forty-five minutes later.

Black Kids - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

The crowd thickened with anticipation as Cut Copy began to set up for their set. Having only been familiar with Cut Copy for the past few months, I was a bit startled to see such a large following anxiously awaiting them. The Aussie quartet took the stage a little after 7:30 and launched right into “Out There On The Ice,” a stunning synth-driven track from their new album, In Ghost Colours. The front row of hipsters went crazy, waving their arms in the air, swinging their hips, and clapping along. Cut Copy brought the element that Black Kids had been lacking all along: stage presence. With sweat pouring off their faces, they jumped around and played and sang their hearts out, only pausing to tell the crowd to “Go fucking crazy.” And they did, turning the Abbey Pub into a mess of sweaty, writhing bodies. Cut Copy mostly stuck to their newer songs (such highlights included “Lights and Music,” “So Haunted,” and “Far Away”), occasionally throwing an older track into their set-list to massive cheers and applause.

Cut Copy - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

Although the night started off on a bit of a sour note with Black Kids, it was clear as I walked out of the Abbey Pub, with my ears pounding and my feet completely sore, that Cut Copy stole the show out from under from the blog buzz band. And really, that’s the way it should be. Internet hype only goes so far, but bands that are genuinely talented will always prevail at the end of the night.

Cut Copy - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

--Anna Deem

1 comment:

Logan said...

I had the same problem with The Black Kids when we saw them at Coachella a few weeks ago. Completely lacking in stage presence and/or excitement. Granted, it was a Friday afternoon set, but when you're drawing a crowd away from Les Savy Fav, you better be worth all the buzz.

I haven't caught Cut Copy yet, but I can't wait to catch them at the P4k festival later this summer.

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