HOT HOT HEAT + The Futureheads + Louis XIV @ Metropolis

By Matt - Idle Minds - 04/22/2005

Awful, Excellent, and not the train wreck I was expecting.

Easiest review I ever wrote!

…what? I have to write more? Damnit…

For people who love bands that sound like other bands, last Friday’s show at the Metropolis was a night to remember. And I don’t mean that as a negative... these days, it’s very hard to find a band that doesn’t sound like someone else, or an amalgamation of various bands. The trick is to do it well.

Unfortunately, San Diego’s "> Louis XIV don’t do it well, at least not live. I’ve listened to their new album The Best Little Secrets Are Kept trying to get acquainted with their songs before the show and to be honest, they do a pretty good approximation of 70’s glam-era David Bowie -- faux British accent and all. Unfortunately their live act left a lot to be desired. What sounds like cool/retro on CD sounded like generic FM rock on stage (cough... CHOM... cough). Their second song literally sounded like a cross between Bryan Adams and AC/DC. And then there was the creepy dedication of their song "Illegal Tender" to "all the young girls out there", specifically the twenty or so 16-year-olds on the dance floor with the glow sticks. Yikes. By the way, the non-lead-vocalist/guitarist in the band should never be allowed to play the piano or sing again, unless he’s planning on starting a Simple Plan cover band. Then again, I've never seen such a good crowd response for the third band on a three-band bill, so what do I know. As they say, “chacun à son goût” (that’s French by the way… look it up).

The crowd cheered when the huge Futureheads backdrop came down during the downtime and I cheered up a bit (or maybe it was the beer). The 80s revival aspect of the other two bands is hammered home by the Elvis Costello and The Cars playing on the PA. Let me start by stating that I love the ">Futureheads album. Even though I usually joke that I preferred them when they were called XTC, these guys have talent in spades. Having missed them the last time they were through town (headlining... sigh), I was pretty excited to be seeing them. Despite some fairly spotty sound quality (I blame the venue), they didn't disappoint. Starting things off with "Le Garage" (the usual opener), the band from Sunderland played a fine selection of songs off their debut release. What struck me about The Futureheads was the tight musicianship and excellent vocals from all four members. The strength of the vocals was very apparent by their excellent rendition of "Hounds of Love" by Kate Bush where the members trade syncopated oh’s as a background to the main vocals. An excellent set by an excellent band that I hope to see more of in the future.

(Can you tell I like this band?)

The Futureheads left the stage, and a very high pitched "Hot Hot Heat" chant started on the floor. Did I mention the twenty or so 16-year-olds with the glow sticks? After hearing the same 3-4 songs from The Clash's London Calling a couple of times and a few delays -- at one point, the lights went out, and then came back on. My guess is that it was a hair malfunction -- Vancouver's ">Hot Hot Heat took the stage.

Let me get this out the way…

To lead singer Steve Bays: 70s-era Roger Daltrey called... wants his hair back. And oh ya... I think Mick Jagger trademarked those crappy dance moves.

Ok... phew… now I can get on with the review.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Hot Hot Heat’s set was not the train wreck that I was expecting. It wasn’t fantastic by any means, but it was enjoyable enough. I rank their Sub Pop album Make up the Breakdown as one of the better albums of the first half of this decade, and it still ends up in my CD player to this day. Their new major label debut Elevator left me a little cold. It’s growing on me a bit, but it’s nowhere near as good as Make up the Breakdown. That being said, the show’s strengths were the older songs and its weakness were the newer songs (shocking!). Truth be told, the new songs did sound a lot better performed live, but it doesn’t prevent them from being weak songs in the first place (don’t get me started on “You Owe Me An IOU”! Errr…).

For the most part, the set alternated between songs from Make up the Breakdown and Elevator. Highlights were “Island Of The Honest Man” -- best song on the new album, in my humble opinion -- an excellent version of “Get In Or Get Out” and the set closer “Bandages” which got the whole floor pogo-ing. Low points were a very sloppy version of “This Town” and “Save Us S.O.S”, some pretty horrible stage banter, a temperamental bassist and weak sounding drums. Overall, simply not a very fun band to watch live: the music’s alright, but the band just doesn’t have the dynamics for a good live act. I won’t be rushing out to see them again anytime soon.

To summarize again: Awful, Excellent, and not the train wreck I was expecting.

[Tune in to The Idle Minds Sundays 4pm – 6pm]