This week marks my first non-basement-oriented concert in Brooklyn, at the Polish community center/music venue Warsaw—and yes, I’ve never heard of anything more Williamsburg either. It was a pretty NYC night for me, all in all, as I shuffled to the concert from a Broadway show, the upbeat farcical melodies of “It Shoulda Been You” still reverberating in my head as I stepped into the thickening crowd at the very moment Matt Hitt opened his beautiful mouth and started singing.
For those of you who don’t know, the Welsh model-turned-Britpop poster boy is the frontman of the Drowners, a NYC-based rocker gang of the Smiths variety. They’re the kind of band that looks like they should only be shot in black and white, each one of them ripped out of a magazine for some American teen’s crush collage. And, plot twist, they’re good, too! If you’re into “sad pop music” and a lot of “schoolboy grinning,” I would suggest you run out and buy an album ASAP. I’ll save you some trouble and tell you that yes, they are on Spotify, but come on, chaps, do you want to save the music industry or don’t you?
So, of course the Drowners wasn’t just a randomly-selected opening act. As in the tradition of The Scene That Celebrates Itself, they got the gig not just on their looks, but on their connections. Matt Hitt and Justin Hayward-Young, frontman of the Vaccines, go way back—or at least, so their Instagram would lead you to believe.
The Vaccines taking the stage had a similar effect as if Hayward-Young had casually tossed a lit cigarette in the vicinity of a ticking bomb. Maybe I’ve just been seeing too many folk acts, recently, but the sort of beating I received in the center of the crowd brought me back to my middle school Warped Tour days. Within the first number I had three beers poured on me and lost a shoe. By the time the third song rolled around I’d been elbowed upside the nose and offered illegal substances by questionable strangers. There was a sort of hypnotic mania in the crowd, an accidental violence. The West London indie rock demigods played with a smirky camaraderie, jamming to new hits like “Handsome” and “Dream Lover,” then taking a step back to previous albums. Their latest album, which still has that new car smell, follows a trend similar to that of their compatriots the Arctic Monkeys, amping for more seductive guitar riffs to complement the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. In fact, the riff for “Dream Lover” is almost identical to that of “Do I Wanna Know?” But who’s keeping track?
An acoustic version of “No Hope” replaced the wished-for “Post Break-Up Sex” as the toned-down encore, to much dismay. How could they dare deny us the chance to drown them out with our own beer-addled vocalizations of everyone’s favorite sad pop song? It seems like the answer is, “Sorry, not sorry.”
Well, if they won’t oblige, I will.
Your weekend car jams, provided by Cat Rickman. See you all soon.