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Review Wed Apr 08 2009

Review: Glasvegas @ Bottom Lounge, 4/6/09

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Photo by Kirstie Shanley for Transmission

At Bottom Lounge on Monday, Glasvegas had a golden opportunity to take advantage of a palate cleansing opening band. Unfortunately, they didn't quite pull it off. Singer James Allan was off his game much of the night - missing cues, staggering around the stage, disinterested more often than not, etc. The rest of the band tried their hardest to be dynamic with a crowd that desperately wanted to like them. But they didn't really have many cards to play aside from turning their backs or taking a few steps toward the middle, rocking out, then backstepping to their positions on the side mics. And drummer Caroline McKay looked far too focused to be having a good time until the very end. (But then she had this huge smile and seemed elated to receive cheers.) Their stage presence appeared to rely on Allan, who was more interested in thanking the crowd for thanking him for being a rock star than actually being a rock star.

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Even though they got off to a rough start with "Geraldine", the best song I've ever heard about a social worker, they seemed intent on delivering a real performance. As they progressed through a shuffled set of the album and EP songs, Allan got himself together and the band gained momentum, riled up the crowd, and sounded comparable to the heavy shoegaze/alt-rock of their records. At their best, they pummeled ears with a wall of sound that'd make Phil Spector or Kevin Shields proud. At their worst, they were aimless.

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When they were on point, they were adored. "Go Square Go" and "Daddy's Gone" ended the set and planned encore, respectively; both carried mightily by audience singalongs of borderline anthemic choruses. The trick for a band's staying power, though, is those moments carrying an entire show and not being only moments. Glasvegas has a whole lot of potential. However, it seems that their potency, at least on a stage, revolves around just one person. If that person's not on the ball, the odds are stacked against them. But when he is, they can be very good.

[See more amazing photos from the Glasvegas show by Kirstie Shanley at the Gapersblock: Transmission Flickr page.]

 
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Alissa / April 8, 2009 1:28 PM

I can't believe we were at the same show! I thought they looked and sounded like they were having a good time with it. I wasn't expecting their performance to be as great as it was, actually. You're right, though, the sing-alongs were definite highlights, so credit where credit's due.

It was nice meeting you (briefly) at the end of the night...Jon was so impressed that you remembered him!

Amazing pictures, as always, from the lovely Kirstie.

James / April 8, 2009 3:41 PM

I admit I may have been overwhelmed with the hype. A friend of mine saw them in LA in January and said, "You need to see this band." They were selling hard and I bought in. But I just didn't feel it from them on Monday. Maybe my expectations were too lofty. Although, I would definitely give them another shot because the last 15-20 minutes were far better than the first.

It was nice to meet you, too. I'm sure I'll see you and Jon at another show in the near future.

Alissa / April 8, 2009 5:43 PM

Another thought I had after I hit "Post" on the first one: They seemed to me to be a bit nervous at first. As you said, the last 15-20 minutes were the best part of the show. Never been to Chicago before, still fairly new to American fans, didn't know what to expect...they seemed to get more into a groove as the gig went on and they were getting a positive reaction. Who knows what they've been faced with on their tour so far (crowd-wise). There was a definite positive progression throughout the set.

Yeah, maybe having no expectations was the way to go into this one. Guess I shouldn't talk them up too much for the sake of future concert-goers then, eh?

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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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