On The List :: Friendly Fires @ Webster Hall [12.5.09]

This review also runs on Bowery Presents' House List Blog.

I will cop to the following assumptions about Friendly Fires' Saturday night show at Webster Hall: 1) It would not sell out. 2) Friendly Fires would be great but people wouldn't "get it." 3) I would struggle with a show that, truthfully, wasn't great. Sitting in an establishment slightly south of Webster on 3rd Avenue, I thought these things. More than thought, I was sure of them. These assumptions were just before 8pm. By 10:30, they had been destroyed, exploded and rebuilt in a new image like a forgotten sports arena and its new, improved replacement.

Webster Hall was packed in the way it gets packed when everyone who bought tickets actually shows up and wants to be close to the stage. Not every band does this to a venue; the buzz, the sense that something incredible might happen. Not two hours ago I discussed my theory of big venues and how nothing unexpected can happen because of their size and sterility. But the potential energy in the room was almost suffocating. I edit. Nothing exciting happens in big venues ... until it does and then, bluntly: It is on.

Friendly Fires crushed the crowd from the outset. Opening with "Lovesick" and playing "Skeleton Boy" third, it was clear they would hold nothing back. Lead singer Ed McFarlane, an explosion of energy, shaking and shivering around the stage like a man possessed never let up, even excoriating us to, "Dance, people." The second-half of the set threw the pedal to the floor, rolling through "Photobooth," and "On Board," (maybe the most frenetic moment of the night) and closing with the anthemic, "Paris." The band received a well-earned, slow-clap encore and returned to play "Ex-Lover." The chorus, "you're all I need," echoed through the hall and I had been more than proved wrong. This band proved themselves completely and amazingly right: A monolith of proportion in public sound and proof that when the walls and floor shake, it means you're being broken down only to be rebuilt.

Listen :: Friendly Fires - "Jump In The Pool"

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