Over the Weekend: We Were Promised Jetpacks, Royal Bangs, Bear Hands at Trees

We Were Promised Jetpacks, Royal Bangs, Bear Hands Trees November 5

Better than: feeling the 5.6 earthquake and wondering how the hell an earthquake could happen here.

Glasgow's We Were Promised Jetpacks poured their hearts out on Saturday night, but it seemed like only half of the crowd returned the love, which, frankly, blew.

Sure, there was a lot of applause between songs and lots singing along with material from the band's first album, but in terms of reception, half of the crowd might as well been mannequins.

The four-piece plays a distinct style that can make people move and groove, but it can also make them raise both fists in the air and scream to the heavens. Over the course of 65 minutes, those who got the vibe let the songs cling with a fantastic blend of tension and release.

Frontman Adam Thompson kept his eyes closed throughout opener "Circles and Squares" while the rest of the band stared at the ground. Eventually Thompson opened his eyes and he even said hello after their sixth song. With a lot of smoke coming from a fog machine and a dazzling light show, the band absolutely pummeled.

Drummer Darren Lackie was fluid with his timing as guitarist Mike Palmer and bassist Sean Smith added plenty of layers to the sound. All of the songs felt epic, more so than how some of them sound on record. Softer parts were incredibly intimate, especially when Thompson stepped away from the microphone and sang out.

All this, and the crowd seemed to dig what they already knew and appreciated the new material. It would have been easy to anticipate controlled joy and celebration. Instead, it was something else.

Earlier, Bear Hands had a bounce to their tuneful sound, which, at times, reminded of Modest Mouse and Talking Heads. By no means was the band sounding like a knock-off -- it's just a couple of reference points. Acknowledging the last time they played Dallas -- at the now-closed Nightmare -- they were very pleased their 11-song set went over very well to the ever-growing crowd.

Royal Bangs brought out their caffeinated indie grit in spades. In 40 minutes, the band handed the audience nine tracks and the floor seemed to go for them more than the newer We Were Promised Jetpacks material.

Critic's Notebook

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Personal bias: I was definitely there for We Were Promised Jetpacks, especially since it was my first time to see them.

Random quote: "Good evening, we're AC/DC," said Royal Bangs' frontman as the curtain opened.

By the way: The bass frequencies blasted furiously during all three bands. Even though I had earplugs in, I felt like somebody was punching my eardrums every time a bass drum was kicked or the E string on a bass was struck. It was punishing with Bear Hands and Royal Bangs, but things kind of balanced out when We Were Promised Jetpacks hit stage.

We Were Promised Jetpacks' set list: "Circles and Squares" "Quiet Little Voices" "Picture of Health" "Hard to Remember" "Keeping Warm" "Medicine" "This is My House, This is My Home" "Boy in the Backseat" "Roll Up Your Sleeves" "Sore Thumb" "Ships With Holes Will Sink" "Pear Tree" "It's Thunder and It's Lightning"

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