I’ll be honest, readers. last week’s 42nd Annual WBRU Birthday Bash was on the verge of being awful. However, the performance of a certain two musicians took the night from the pit of despair and turned it into a great experience.
For the past 42 years, 95.5 WBRU has been transmitting alternative rock across Southern New England airwaves. To commemorate the 42nd year of the commercial radio station’s existence, the annual birthday bash was held at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel. The lineup seemed solid enough, with New Zealand group the “Naked and Famous,” West Coast rockers “Young the Giant” and Brooklyn pair “Matt and Kim” performing. However, at the start of the concert the Birthday Bash seemed dead on arrival despite a sold out show.
The first act on stage, the Naked and Famous, hails from the other side of the world and features a synth-pop sound similar to acts such as MGMT. Radio play of songs like “Punching in a Dream” or “Young Blood” gives listeners the idea that the band has an energetic dance vibe, but once applied on the stage the band sort of just fell on its face. Their performance was bland, and tedious songs just melted into each other. During the set of the Naked and Famous I honestly felt like I was simply waiting in line, those around me still as statues and the songs so bland my ears barely bothered to register the music.
After the Naked and Famous (who stayed clothed and irrelevant throughout the entire set) got off stage, a long intermission took place which left the crowd restless. Finally, Young the Giant took the stage and everyone hoped they would put on a better show than the previous band. Long story short, they didn’t. Fans of the band promised me the world of Young the Giant, but I didn’t find them either talented or energetic. The sound of Young the Giant was cookie cutter, a tasteless mixture of every other alternative band out there. The amps were also way too loud, which wouldn’t of been too bad if the band was halfway decent. Young the Giant fans may have enjoyed the set, but the average concertgoer would have simply been bored by their small sound.
Young the Giant came and left Lupo’s feeling more like a clinic, with the crowd looking lethargic and bored. With one act left it seemed like the 42nd WBRU Birthday Bash would go down as one of the worst concerts put on by the radio station, but Matt and Kim seemed determined to turn the night around; a feat they would accomplish.
Based in Brooklyn, Matt and Kim has New England roots with Matt from Vermont and Kim from right here and Providence. Playing countless shows across the world for years, the duo was easily the most experienced band performing in terms of putting on a show. Featuring just a drum set and a keyboard, Matt and Kim played with an extreme amount of intensity and energy that made even the dullest member of the crowd jump and sing along.
What Matt and Kim accomplished that the other bands just couldn’t muster up was crowd involvement. Young the Giant and the Naked and Famous paid no attention to the Lupo’s crowd, but Matt and Kim were constantly interacting with the audience. Whether it was through balloons tossed around the venue, booty dancing on top of the crowd or constantly encouraging the audience to go as crazy as possible, Matt and Kim were effective at building up the intensity of the show with catchy tunes and an energetic stage presence.
Despite Matt and Kim’s energetic performance making the ticket worth the price, I can’t exactly call the concert a success. The bulk of the concert left me bored and annoyed, with lackluster performance by bands that clearly do not know how to keep a crowd entertained. Hopefully, the 43rd Birthday Bash will feature bands that can put on a show instead of bands that have only had some successful airplay.