It's never a good sign when a lead singer reveals "we haven't played a show in a long time" to a packed crowd during the second song of a set. But this is the type of obstacles you encounter when attending a corporate and free concert.
The Bravery played to a large throng of fans (and fans of free stuff) at The Metro Wednesday night in honor of Puma turning 60 years old. Now there are always pro's and con's to attending a free sponsored concert. Sometimes the music will lack quality (thankfully not the case Wednesday night), sometimes their will be annoying adverts for the sponsor (Puma kept the in your face advertising still present yet to a minimum, a much appreciated gesture), and then the fact you are seeing a show that people didn't pay for, so much of the audience may not be fans of the band at all. These multiple factors played into a very long and strange night that I spent Wednesday with The Bravery.
Now before anyone gets upset and points out "review the music, not the crowd," rest assured I will get to that. But the crowd, the venue, and the overall vibe does play into how much one enjoys the show.
Upon first glance as I walked in, I could tell the crowd was very diverse. A decent mix of college kids, indie rock hipster type, business casual, and the occasional old guy. But the main attraction in the crowd that night were the drunk folk. I get it, a lot of people drink at concerts, but I'd much rather watch the band then hear you fight with your girlfriend and spill beer on people, alright? I know drunk people come with the territory, but sometimes you really wish that everyone could just stop talking, dance, and enjoy the music.
And now onto the music. The opening act were a DJ duo called Rocktapussy. The crowd was not feeling Rocktapussy at all. In fact you could say they did not rock any actual pussy (and they set themselves up too easily with a name like that). A few glimmers of good mixing was generally lost in an over saturation of sound, and just made the duo sound like two girls who once learned some beat mastering from their ex-boyfriends a few years ago. In a town like Chicago that thrives with many wonderful DJ's, I'm surprised Puma couldn't have picked a more entertaining act, or at least someone that could get a good majority of the audience to dance.
Thankfully The Bravery came on and put an end to this nonsense. They launched into their track "Swollen Summer" off their self-titled debut, packing the song with a lot of heavy riffs and high energy. It was a great song to kick off a set. They went into their second song, stopped, and then did the dreadful aforementioned announcement that they had not played a show in some time. Look, if you are going to mess up a song, fine, but play it off and keep on going. Don't make excuses, just rock it out.
Thankfully the band bounced back and launched into almost their entire debut album (a real gem of simple fun songs), and got the entire floor jumping up and down chanting along during the catchy "Stop, Drop, and Roll."
Singer Sam Endicott was upbeat, engaging, and at times witty. He even dedicated a song to our lovely yet clearly dumb Governor, stating "This is for your Governor, Mr. Smooth," before launching into "Every Word From Your Mouth Is A Knife in My Ear."
The Bravery put on a wonderful show, and do check them out live for a great dance party if you can. But with all things free, you sometimes have to accept the strings attached. I just never thought one of those strings would be witnessing a drunk guy sway shirtless in the balcony of the Metro during December.