A couple of weeks ago, I journeyed to Paper Tiger in downtown San Antonio for the first time to see one of my favorite bands, The Dandy Warhols. I was delighted by the venue’s comfortable ambiance, the terrific sound system and the opportunity to stand as close to the stage as you wanted to.
It’s literally like being in a garage, rocking to your favorite musicians with a couple hundred of your closest friends. Previously, I’d only seen the Warhols at the massive Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, so this was a wonderfully intimate experience for me.
During a break, I looked at posters for an upcoming show by the delightfully-monickered band “We Were Promised Jetpacks.” I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t heard of these guys before, but the name enough (and a welcome return to the Tiger) made it a must-see.
By way of research, I dutifully purchased their newest album, Unravelling (on vinyl, of course) and gave it a listen. It sounded fine—a blend of alt-rock, power pop and post-punk, so I knew that I would enjoy seeing them perform live.
What I didn’t expect was how hard they would rock it live. And rock it they did—big time.
They started out agreeably enough with a pleasant power pop sound, but the boys got rowdier as they moved into their set. About a quarter of the way through, I realized that they intended to permeate the place with sound—and that’s just what happened. It became a literal bouncy house of punk rock—and everyone loved it.
I was part of the Los Angeles punk scene back in the ’80s, and WWPJ’s set on Tuesday brought back the exuberant thrills I achieved in those wonderfully anarchistic days. The rest of the crowd was into it too. They knew many of the songs and blissfully sang along.
According to a recent list by setlist.fm, WWPJ performed most of their songs from their 2009 debut, These Four Walls, followed by new tunes from Unravelling. The mix of the old and new blended together seamlessly. And unlike some punkers of the past, whose music can sound wearyingly similar, this band’s repertoire has refreshing variations.
Frontman Adam Thompson is blessed with a honeyed voice, reminiscent of Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys, but he can quickly switch to a ragged scream or husky snarl as required by the music. As for the rest of the fellows, they just rocked it.
Seoul, a wonderful band from Montreal, opened the show, offering an agreeable set of ambient/shoegazer-style tunes. It set the mood for a great night of music at Paper Tiger, an experience I’ll be happy to repeat again in the future. Hey, did you say Killing Joke is coming?
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