August 1, 2011
Better than: watching
a trainwreck the Kings of Leon
It's hard to believe British garage rockers Arctic Monkeys have been kicking around for nearly a decade.
It makes us feel a tad bit old to think of ourselves barely at drinking age, watching the raw youngsters perform their biggest hit to-date, "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor," on late night television.
We felt almost as old as standing among a throng of folks dropped off by their parents to watch the band perform at The Palladium Ballroom last night.
Somewhat ironically, however, though the band's fan base has remained roughly the same age, their sound has grown by leaps and bounds.
Ranging from big Sabbath-esque arena-ready numbers to polished syncopated garage rock tunes, the band has become seasoned vets along the way, learning just how to seamlessly throw in dramatic tempo changes, mature, sweeping dynamics, and intricate bits of color every now and then.
All told, it made things like drummer Matt Helders' stick twirls and a dramatic mid-song pause by frontman Alex Turner during "Brick By Brick" come off more seasoned than showy.
But although the band has gotten better, cultivating a bigger, more polished, arena rock sound over the last several years, they've arguably never made a record as good as their debut.
Look no further than oldies like "Still Take You Home" which are now beefier and well-refined than their naïve garage-y album versions, while still retaining a fair amount of that original charm. 2005's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not was heaped with such impossible-to-live-up-to praise (shortly after its release UK's NME magazine called it "the 5th best British album of all time," as well as saying the Monkeys were this generations most important band) that it is more than impressive to see they've not only survived it, but come through the ordeal a stronger band that looks poised to last the long haul.
Personal Bias: The initial dread I feel pulling up to a venue and realizing it's an all-ages show quickly dissipates the first time I head to the absolutely line-free bar.
By The Way: It's August. It's Texas. It's fucking hot. Somehow Turner made it through several songs before removing his leather jacket, although lead guitarist Jamie Cook never did take off his damn denim jacket.