On The List :: Friendly Fires @ Mercury Lounge [7.28.08]

If you look down at the stage, you can see the Friendly Fires set-list. God, it's very nicely typed and it has eight-songs on it. Look at that font! The subtle curvature, the palatable contrast. Is that squid ink on a white 8 and 1/2 by 11? Or is it bone? It might even have the date of the show on it. The whole thing is a little overwhelming. Their tour manager might as well be Pat Bateman. But the three-out-of-four boys in collared shirts know something we don't. They're about to rip this set-list into a million little pieces.

Absurd statements: 1) Friendly Fires have a 70 percent chance of becoming the Britpop LCD Soundsystem. 2) Friendly Fires could be one of the biggest (little) bands of 2009.

Almost immediately the lead-singer starts bending at the waist and losing his mind. It's a little before 10 o'clock on the east coast and Friendly Fires are determined to not act like an opening band. Every bit of their affect is that of a headliner. In the next 30-minutes, people are going to totally forget that Modey Lemon is even playing later. And just like that, Friendly Fires are on. The lead-singer encouraging the sound guy (or maybe just everyone) to turn up the volume. It would be about 3am in London and the crowd starts to act like it.

Two truths and a lie: 1) Friendly Fires enjoy the use of the cowbell. 2) Friendly Fires are absolutely burning this place to the ground. 3) Friendly Fires have five members.

They play a tight set rife with energy. And it's not manufactured energy either. This is the kind of enthusiasm that doesn't come from preparation or polish. It comes from somewhere else, somewhere far more earnest and far more true. The contagion spreading out from the stage and into the rapidly more animated audience is something that aspires to be nothing besides itself. It is something opposite of fake. What is happening inside the Mercury Lounge is, on at least one level, valid.

The take-away: 1) This band will be back in America. 2) By the time they are it won't be in a room this small. 3) This isn't a Myspace band. Don't spin a couple tracks through your computer speakers and think: "it's sort of post-punky and a little dance-rocky. I guess it's okay." If you think this you will be woefully underestimating this band. If you think this, you will be wrong. If you don't go see this, you won't see it. That is a tautology and maybe less useful than it could be. Sometimes you just want something to be true.

Water has spilled all over the front of the stage. Mixed with the spasmodic movements of Friendly Fires' lead-singer, the pristine set-list at his feet is torn to shreds. This is the end of their last song and nothing could be less important. You could make the argument that they had to destroy this pretty little piece of paper to get to where they are tonight. That would not be true and no one likes a liar.

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