Christmas certainly did come early last Tuesday April 24th, when the Wombats rocked the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. The Brit indie rockers also played with NC-based Flagship, and NJ-based The Static Jacks, both of which were excellent show openers. All of this, combined with an excellent venue and a lively crowd, creating a truly unforgettable night.
At 9 PM. Flagship took the stage to start off the night. They were a five-piece group that played about five or six of their songs for the crowd. To me, they sounded like a fusion of the Cure and maybe Kings of Leon: having a ‘Southern alternative’ backbone, but definitely also incorporating a more ambient sound. Their singer’s style reminded me a bit of Bono as well. I managed to speak with their drummer, Michael Finster, after they played. He told me that the band was from Charlotte, NC, and had only been together about nine months, but all of the members have been involved in other projects over the past six or seven years. He cited U2, Sigur Rós, and Arcade Fire among their greatest influences. Anyway, the effect of these bands was definitely felt, for they gave the sold-out audience a great performance.
Next up was the Static Jacks. Led by frontman Ian Devaney, the indie punk rockers, also a five-piece band, went through eight or nine songs, primarily from their upcoming album. As for their style, they reminded me somewhat of the British band The Vaccines, but mostly I thought they sounded like another great indie band: Tokyo Police Club. These guys really knew how to energize a crowd. Ian, especially, was a delight to watch, as he sang powerfully and skillfully throughout the songs. Between songs, he talked to the crowd, and was actually pretty funny. His great stage presence and tremendous energy couldn’t help but remind me of Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten. I got a chance to speak with Ian as well, along with guitarist Mike Sue-Poi, and they told me a bit about their band. The members are very young; the average age of the members was about 22. Almost all of them hailed from Westfield, NJ. Among their musical influences, they cited The Cribs, Arctic Monkeys, Minor Threat, Bright Eyes, Queen, MGMT, and even David Bowie. Their love of Bowie is so large that their entrance music was, in fact, the song “Magic Dance” which Bowie recorded for Jim Henson’s 1986 movie, Labyrinth. Overall, these guys were perfect as the Wombats’ opener, and the crowd was going wild once the Wombats finally took to the stage around 11.
“Are you relatively up for this?” These were Matthew “Murph” Murphy’s first words to the crowd upon taking the stage. The Wombats, as one might expect, were excellent. They played through about 12 or 13 of their songs from their first two albums. They played all of their major hits, including “Kill the Director”, “Let’s Dance to Joy Division”, “Moving to New York”, “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)”, and “Techno Fan”. The member that was the most exciting to watch, for me, was bassist Tord Øverland-Knudsen, who rocked literally all over the stage throughout the set. The other band members were also really into the performance, with the drummer Dan Haggis keeping perfect time and singer/keyboardist Murph pounding the keyboard to make every chord blast through the speakers. I was able to have a 15 minute interview with Tord before the show, which you can check out here. The Wombats really nailed it last Tuesday, and their songs, in my opinion, have never sounded better.