On May 6th, there was something definitely weird in the air. Usually, when you enter a concert hall like Theatre Fairmount, your senses take a beating, and you’re flooded with a wide array of characters and distinct personalities. Most concert goers share at least one commonality though, and that is they like the band or bands they are about to see. On this particularly bizarre night, this was still true. What was strange was that it felt as if everyone was COMPLETELY the same in almost every way! Have you ever walked into a room and had the feeling that everyone knows each other, but you? That usually doesn’t happen at a concert, but it no doubt made for an electric couple of hours.
To add more to the confusion was opening act Krief. Don’t get me wrong, Patrick Krief and his band were awesome, but right away I was taken aback by their stage presence, particularly Patrick, who is supposed to be the front-man, but was seated 95 % of the time. Usually rock etiquette dictates that the front-man should be up and at ’em… so why on earth was he sitting? At first, I thought maybe he was pulling a Dave Grohl, but NO! He got up during the last song and appeared to be free of any injuries! So… WHY THE FUCK WAS HE SITTING? I mean, it was still great, but it just boggled my mind! What was the strategy there?!
When I wasn’t distracted by a potentially lazy frontman, I really loved the band’s music. I would best describe their sound as The National meets Sam Roberts while blazed out on Dark Side of The Moon–era Pink Floyd. Even though I have been critical of his ability to stand, Patrick Krief has incredible presence and a blistering mastery of his instrument. I swear, I shut my eyes at one point and his piercing guitar bends sounded like the resurrection of Mick Ronson and his unearthly solo from “Moonage Daydream.”
It was when We Are Monroe hit the stage that I realized why the crowd seemed so oddly unified. Tonight’s show was unique because it was the band’s launch for their first full-length album, White Lights.
If one were to read the band’s biography (which I highly recommend you do), you would be treated to a scrappy underdog story. Bon Scott once sang that …”it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.” Well it must have been a hell of a fucking climb for these guys. I won’t go into too much detail, but the majority of the band has been playing together since the late 90s and only now have they gotten recognition outside of the local scene.
Such utter determination has clearly paid off, but I think that it also helps that these guys come off as adorably humble. After almost every song, they seemed bewildered by the size of the crowd and the unconditional love they received. No wonder I was the odd-man out! Everyone in that audience must have been comprised of loving family members, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and their most devout fans. In the end, this wasn’t your average rock show. It was a celebration of loving support, and a seemingly impossible dream that was ambitiously earned through sheer force and obvious talent.
Now, here comes the part where I might sound like a bit of a dick. I will not deny their abilities as musicians, but I just didn’t connect with their music the way their fans did. I swear: one female fan looked like she was possessed and snatched from one of those T.V. evangelical sermons! I was super impressed by their tight musicianship, extreme likeability, and chemistry, but I didn’t FEEL much of anything. The worst part is that I can’t even pinpoint why! Maybe it’s because some of the melodies lacked variety, or that after a while every song started to sound like The Walkmen’s “The Rat”, but other than that I’m really not sure. I will admit their last song of the night “Gimme Some” was pretty darn catchy, but as the crowd erupted upon its completion, for me it sort of disappeared into the night.
But hey, that’s just one critic’s opinion! Whatever qualms I may have had about my gut reaction, both bands put on extremely tight, professional sets and I truly would be an asshole if I were to tell you to avoid them. I may not have walked out emotionally satisfied and was maybe even still disoriented, but I know a good set when I see one.
Written by Shawn Thicke
Photography by Eric Brisson
*edited by Kate Erickson