Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Junior Senior @ Highline Ballroom

Setlist (Courtesy Fluxblog)
Go Junior Go Senior / Chicks and Dicks / Dynamite / Good Girl, Bad Guy / Rhythm Bandits / Happy Rap / Itch U Can't Scratch / We R The Handclaps / Can I Get Get Get (with JD from Le Tigre) / Move Your Feet / Shake Me Baby / Shake Your Coconuts / Hip Hop A Lula // Trust Tissue / White Trash

Junior Senior’s first album was a strong, fun bunch of songs, but their second album, out today in the US, is a masterpiece, each song a three minute pop masterpiece, flowing seamlessly from one high point to the next. So, I was eager to see Junior Senior in action, nearly two years after first hearing the album, and I was not disappointed by what they brought.

But, before they went on we had the antics of the gayest band in the world, Gravy Train. That’s not a judgment, it’s just the undeniable truth. They reminded me of a less skilled Scissor Sisters, amplifying the stage antics and removing any of the emotion. Scissor Sisters are a band who use theatricality to enhance their music, while these guys are just theatricality. I have no particular desire to see them again, but it’s rare you see people actually talking about an opening act, and nearly every review of the gig I’ve read has spent at least some of the time discussing them.

Before getting into Junior Senior, a quick rant about set start times. Now that I’m working, it’s a real hassle to stand around for two hours after the stated start time, four hours after door open, waiting for the band to start. The stage crew was done setting up by 10:40, and we just there for twenty minutes, waiting. This can really kill a gig, particularly when you’ve got to get up at 7 AM for work the next day. Last week’s free show from Cansei de Ser Sexy was ruined by the fact that they went on at 1:15, by that time all the momentum that was building was gone and we were just a bunch of people standing in a sweaty room. This wasn’t so bad, and my annoyance was pretty much erased by their energetic performance, but still, I’m assuming most of these people work, is it that tough to move things along?

Anyway, once Junior Senior emerged, things took off. Most of the band came out, a guitar, a bass, two backup singers, Junior and finally Senior, who looked like a giant European version of Eminem. This was a really tall guy, particularly when standing against the tiny dude from Le Tigre. He had phenomenal stage presence. Even though Junior probably has more musical talent, it’s Senior’s stage presence that puts the band over the top as a live act.

In a radical departure from nearly every other concert ever, I was pretty annoyed by the initial bombardment of old songs, and was almost ready to yell out “New album!” by the time they finally dropped “Happy Rap.” It’s not that the show wasn’t working well, those tracks got the audience into it, and “Rhythm Bandits” in particular was a highlight, but the new album was such a jump, I was hoping to hear more from it.

When they finally did play a new track, it was my least favorite, “Happy Rap.” Now, this was a situation where least favorite is the optimum phrase, pretty much every track they played rocked the audience and was tremendously entertaining. This is infectious, ecstatic music and that comes across in the live show. I was just grinning throughout the whole show, it was so much fun. Next up was “Itch U Can’t Skratch,” which owns right from the opening synth descent. That song has a great hip hop style bounce dwelling under the poppier main part.

The highlight of the show was “We R the Handclaps,” which featured amazing guest vocals from their backup singer. Not only was she ridiculously hot, she had a voice that reached way up, hitting notes I heard on the album, but found hard to believe were sung by a human voice. She absolutely owned this song, already one of the best off the album. I only wish she could have gotten a chance to take on more of their songs, particularly “Take My Time.”

The rest of the show provided a bunch of highlights. “Move Your Feet” was fantastic as expected, the interplay between Senior and JD on “Can I Get Get Get” was a lot of fun, and the closing stage rush for “White Trash” was a great finale. If the band was this fun and strong with Junior’s voice in recovery, I can only imagine what they’re like at full strength. This show was a great followup to Daft Punk, another blast of infectious dance music. I hope they pass through here again, and give us more off the new album. That’s really the only complaint I’ve got. Where were “I Like Music” and “Dance Chance Romance”?


Matthew Perpetua said...

I think they thought the audience didn't know the new songs because the album hadn't officially come out here! Which is nonsense!

Patrick said...

That was my thinking too, but earlier he said he assumed most people had stolen it already, so it's hard to say. Either way, I've heard they're touring again in the Fall, so hopefully they'll bring out the full new album on that run through.

BTW, I love your blog, it's actually what got me to listen to J-S in the first place, when you posted "Take My Time" a few years back.