I WAS THERE . . . White Lies, Friendly Fires @ Bowery Ballroom 3.27.09

Friendly Fires, photo by Chris La Putt

Arriving two hours after the 8pm doors, I actually missed the opening act; The Soft Pack (previously The Muslims), an indie rock act out of San Diego. Truthfully, this tardiness on my part allowed the night to take on a “British Invasion” vibe that wouldn’t have worked out so well had I caught the surf rock inflected riffs of the opener, so I wasn’t devastated about it.

Arriving just as Friendly Fires took the stage to quite a packed house, I was super stoked to catch this act as their album is rhythm driven dance rock with beats to melt your ass. The energy coming off these guys was palpable; the lead singer unable to keep those narrow Brit hips still even between songs and especially during an extended pause as the bassist sorted out a broken string snafu. Seriously, you’re only breaking bass strings if you’re going agro out there and they didn’t disappoint on that tip. Getting the crowd jumping with “Lovesick,” the band plowed through a good amount of the album, letting up on the pace only once for a slower number in the middle of the set. Capping their stage time off with the lead singer jumping into the crowd and stoking the already smoking dance party that was in effect, these guys burned the house down. Check them out if you can.

White Lies have been getting a lot of press lately, what with their album debuting at #1 on the UK charts (though since having plummeted back to the reality of a 44th spot), I was interested to experience what sound they were putting out. In cheeky irony, they all came out dressed in black clothes but what was immediately noticeable was how much smaller the crowd was that stuck around for them. Once they started playing the first song, “Farewell to the Fairground,” I thought it was an enjoyable rock anthem. For some reason, there was this crowd blinding strobe light that ignited like a sun every time the lead singer/guitarist strummed a power chord. The rest of the set was pretty run of the mill indie rock that was more about fist pumping than booty shaking. Not exactly my cup of English Breakfast tea, but for those into British guys who play post-punk revival rock circ. NYC 2002; slurp it down.

Kenneth Joachim

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