The Futureheads charged through the crowd at just about 10:30pm last night. Every member of the band must be at least eight-feet tall. These are the things you come to a small venue to find out. When a band brushes past you on the way to stage, just what does it look like? Imposing. Maybe a little gregarious as they thanked the people they bumped into but there was no mistaking who was playing the show. No mistaking who the rock band was. These aren't skinny hipsters who evaporate and blend into the crowd when they're done playing the 9pm slot at Lit. This is a chunky, big-ass rock band. Don't mistake that for a second.
Before we knew it, they were ripping through "Beginning of the Twist," arguably the best song off their latest release, This Is Not The World. The drummer, looking every bit of American Idol's David Cook, either screwed up the set intro or was, as some suggested, really drunk. His inability or unwillingness to come in at the right times became a running joke for the night. Before the final few songs of the set, he held his drum stick in the air like half-baked conductor holding an orchestra hostage. If there was more on the line, this would have been annoying. But they knew what we knew: everyone came here to have fun. If you were one of the lucky people in the door, you sure as hell weren't going to get down on the drummer for being drunk. The beer was free and the band was big. What else do you need?
The biggest case of mistaken identity occurred halfway through the set, when The Futureheads bassist realized a guy in the crowd looked stunningly like their lead-guitarist. There were laughs exchanged and then later on, the lead-guitarist came back to his doppelganger to mention that they both look a little like "that fucker from The Decemberists." Somewhere in downtown Portland, Colin Meloy rolled over in bed and scratched his leg at the idea he was being name-checked by The Futureheads in downtown New York. The indie-rock spit circle has begun to eat itself.
But back on Ludlow, The Futureheads were crushing it. In the middle of their set, they hit another level of frenetic when they rolled through "Radio Heart," "Area," (the biggest song of the night) and "Decent Days and Nights" in direct succession. Two songs later we were in a protracted intro for "Hounds of Love" and Pianos was barely still standing. The band closed with "Carnival Kids" and the explosive "Man Ray." As they walked by us to the back of the room, we slapped sweaty backs and exchanged high-fives. They might even have gotten taller while on stage.
Even with a drummer who looks like an American Idol and a guitarist who looks like Colin Meloy (or some guy in the crowd), The Futureheads together look like a rock band. A real, shut-your-fucking-face rock band. That may seem over-simplified or not terribly descriptive. But sometimes it's important to look like what you do. Sometimes you don't want to be mistaken for anything else.
[Photo by EGrossman 2008]