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Concert Thu May 10 2007

Review: Mando Diao, The Films, Pop Levi @ Double Door

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Something is very strange in Rockville when the only people you meet at a relatively well-attended show are PR people. A lot of people came out to see Swedish rockers Mando Diao at the Double Door last night, but even the charming young lady with the socks and the cigarettes turned out to be a PR intern. (Side note: Has anyone ever noticed that the Double Door smells like the inside of a suitcase after a week in France? It's all stale cigarettes and sex and foolish fashion decisions that obviously made sense at the time, you know? My fucking notebook smelled like smoke and mating this morning. But I digress.) That's a shame, too, because Mando Diao came out hard, muscling through a terrific hour-long set complete with shout-outs to Elvis and a shirtless accoustic encore.

A quick note about the openers: I missed The Ivorys, but caught The Films, a Brooklyn-based band that doesn't exactly break the of-the-moment NYC mold -- they are definitely four wicked-skinny dudes playing angular thrashy guitar lines underneath directed-at-you-girl lyrics, and they are proud of it. I'm personally quite fond of bands like that, so I thought they were great, but I suspect the real reason they're signed to Warner is not so much their music as their terrific stage presence. Still, they're definitely worth checking out while you wait for that next Strokes record or whatever. On the other hand, Pop Levi was pretentious and terrible, as foreshadowed by his 8.0 'fork review -- the last song had a fake ending after about eight minutes, but then kept chugging along for another minute-and-a-half, before sputtering out into another thirty seconds of guitar wankery, which is totally unacceptable. Ragas weren't cool when The Clash did them either, you know? Another song featured three minutes of terrible guitar tone and dude muttering "ooh ooh mama mama" occassionally. I don't know who exactly gets hot for a dance-rock jam band fronted by an ersatz English Prince, but from what I could tell, it was mostly white dudes who can't dance. I am sorry for you, white dudes who can't dance. Please stop trying. It is embarassing for all of us.

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Mando Diao finally took the stage around 11:30, and the crowd was primed to boiling for them. (You would be too after thirty minutes of Pop Levi's no-chorus bullshit.) I was expecting the jangly rock-pop chaos of the two records I've heard, but the band turned their amps up loud and delivered a tight, groove-laden sound that got more that a few asses shaking. The setlist was focused on material from their new record, Ode to Ochrasy, and several songs were opened with musical references to classic blues and rock -- Elvis and Muddy Waters both got shout-outs, as well as Springsteen. The dudes were great on stage -- they kept on trying to be badass rockers ("This song is about having sex in a car!") but failing due to the fact that they are all adorably Swedish. I mean, you cannot help but love a really good bass player who is just dwarfed by his Rickenbacker. Also, all five members of the band sing even though only three of them have microphones, which is awesome. Mando Diao is definitely the kind of band that is as enthusiastic as they are skilled, and so it was cute even when they pushed their voices and broke a little -- you were rooting for them anyway.

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The band ended the set and came back to play "The Band" from Bring 'em In, which the whole crowd was clearly waiting for. We were not, however, waiting for them to divest themselves of shirts for the encore, or to play us a "special treat" which involved only tambourine and accoustic guitar. But that's okay, because they were good enough to get away with it, and frankly, the crowd loved them. I was shocked to see how many people knew the words to "Amsterdam," which isn't even the single from the new record, and I was amazed to see such enthusiastically terrible dancing -- come on, white people. I mean, it was just heartbreaking -- I saw one poor third-date hipster boy desperately trying to do the arms-around-from-behind show pose eventually give up because his bescarfed lady was too busy jumping arhythmically in any direction the beat took her. I am not kidding.

Mando Diao is way too good for that kind of shit-ass dancing. They are way too good to play to a room full of PR people, they are way too good to have to have fucking Pop Levi open for them, and they are certainly way too good to put out another jangly guitar record. Ode to Ochrasy is a fine effort with some fun tunes on it, but here's hoping that Mando Diao tries harder to capture their live sound the next time around, because it blows their record out of the water.

I was told (by a PR person, natch) that Mando Diao would be back through Chicago in September, but I can't find any confirmation of that anywhere. As always, keep an eye on TX and we'll let you know.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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