Arctic Monkeys + Disappears at House of Blues | Live review + photo gallery
Looking every bit the indie rock teen idol with his greased back hair and Texas tuxedo, Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner wasted no time whipping the capacity crowd at the House of Blues into a frenzy. The band, legitimate superstars and stadium-fillers in their native England, don’t enjoy that level of fame on this side of the pound. But you could hardly tell based on their sold-out show Saturday night. The band’s rhythmic assault, built on volleys between Turner and Jamie Cook on guitar, Matt Helders on drums and Nick O’Malley on bass, inspired feverish pogo dancing, fist pumping and raucous applause. Even when they slowed things down, like on “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” off their new album Suck It and See, the band displayed a confident grasp of their signature sound: a distillation of classic influences like The Clash and The Pixies, filtered through U.K. new millennials like Franz Ferdinand and The Libertines. The crowd hung on every tongue-in-cheek turn of phrase delivered by Turner, and bopped enthusiastically to every staccato rhythm. It’s rare enough for a group to create danceable beats and quotable wordplay over the course of a career, much less a single song.
Openers Disappears made the most of their set, even if it was clear most of the audience was there for the boys from Sheffield. The Chicago noise-rockers, touring with Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelly on drums, explore a sound that mixes elements of shoegaze, Krautrock and garage punk. These are guys who would consider “repetitive” a compliment, and many of their songs settle into chugging, hypnotic rhythms. The current incarnation of the band benefits from Shelly’s propelling drum work, over which Brian Case and Jonathan Van Erik layer swirling and hazy guitar lines. Case alternately snarls and bars into the microphone, and the mountains of echoes and reverb renders the vocals atmospheric and indecipherable. Swaggering and formidable, Disappears have carved out their own niche with their tough-guy sound and too-cool swagger.