The Teenagers/Team Robespierre/Bearries
The Abbey Pub – Chicago, IL
I never have any idea how many people will show up to a concert in Chicago. Popularity in indie music is hard to gauge and a bands’ hype often disillusions actual turnouts. Sometimes it’s the night of the week or the venue. So, when crowd size peaked around 120 fans Tuesday Night (April 29) at the Abbey Pub for The Teenagers, I guess I wasn’t surprised; though, I wouldn’t have been if the club sold-out either.
An awesome set from the Abbey Pub DJs welcomed (currently 30) fans at 9:00. The synth-ridden, club-mixed blend of songs from Cut Copy and the Presets (both appearing this month at the Abbey), TV On The Radio, and some cool obscurities later shifted to the more familiar, “Stay Fly,” “Stronger Remix”, and MSTRKRFT’s “Bounce,” and were all intertwined beautifully. Definitely one of the night’s highlights.
Three young experimenters from the Southside of Chicago formed Bearries; I’m thinking Bearries are used in place of Cubs (they’re probably Southside White Sox fans). Their 20-minute set started strong but grew irritating with repetitious sampling of “Do It,” the lone song on their MySpace; true clubbers and housecats: you be the judge.
Brooklyn’s Team Robespierre, like all New York bands, made it clear they were from New York. The 5-piece shared vocals and lead roles more democratically than almost any band I’ve seen, rivaling the Drive-By Truckers perhaps. Each song was introduced beforehand, typically with a one-word explanation of the songs’ topic, and branded with the singers’ upward cadence ending each line of lyricism. The keyboardist definitely aided their cause, making their punk more accessible, especially because he played from the crowd. Their sound wasn’t anything too new; for bands like Team Robespierre, the post-punk genre seems to be what’s natural, easily constructed, and therefore, limited creatively. Keeping par with similar bands, the forceful drumming took the forefront and was the strong suit of their music. Although innovation was low, highlights did arise, “This Feels Perfect” and their finale “Bad Habit,” both available on their MySpace.
I had somewhat prepared (in my head) a presentation of the various joke bands. Basically, joke bands are either brilliant or completely suck; the Teenagers are one of the bands that do not suck, and are in fact very good. All ten of their songs drew from their March 2008 debut Reality Check that Amazon described perfectly as, “Similar to most filthy mouthed teens, Reality Check is full of foul innuendos and lyrics that would make Serge Gainsbourg blush.” The French 20somethings are a three-piece that, when live, borrow two women to play guitar and drums. They are musically tight but nothing too instrumentally extravagant overpowers the main appeal: frontman Quentin Delafon’s French accent that accurately, sarcastically, and mockingly mimics the voice of both teenage boys and girls.
The stage packed twelve at one point when dancing girls were asked to join in on “Homecoming,” which features a guy-and-girl dialogue. Delafon found a Nicole in the audience and dedicated “Fuck Nicole” to her. His dancing was amusing and fit the non-abrasive manner of his humorous lyrics. Opener “Feeling Better” was strong, their single “Love No” was the best, “French Kiss” required the lights to be dimmed and all red, “Make it Happen” was surprisingly good live, “Homecoming” was the most fun, and “Streets of Paris” showcased what Delafon called “French Rap,” before their one-off encore of “Sunset Beach.”