Sunday, September 20, 2009

Face to Face @ Gramercy Blender Theater 9.17.09

The evening started off jovial enough, getting a drink with Walter of Marvelous Observations From The Yellow Lines before heading to the concert. I knew that at least at Blender the way the stage curves up I would have no trouble getting a great view if I got there with some time to spare.

Gramercy has inflated their prices somewhat but I was glad that I caught Face To Face with Pegboy and Polar Bear Club (I did not get to see PBC unfortunately).

Pegboy, an older punk staple from Chicago, was hilarious. The lead singer Larry Danmore was fantastic, mentioning that he was 10 years older and also 40 pounds heavier, he still pranced around like a big brat with a gnarly snarl which was awesome. Self-depracating in an endearing sort of way, even though I thought the music wasn't the best. My problem was more the sound system at Gramercy which was not up to par at all this time around (Face To Face had some really messed up low-end sounds on several songs as well). For Pegboy the vocals I felt were a bit high; their music has a sloshy feel with a great guitar presence and I thought that was a bit lost.

Face To Face has not played in about 4 years. This was a reunion kind of tour after playing several shows intermittedly over several months, and it was great to catch them for the first time (when I was most into them was probably high school, and by college nobody came around the Albany area and I had not gone to too many shows in the city, but I digress).

All I know is I think they only played one song off of Ignorance Is Bliss, which I used to own and subsequently re-sold to the used record store I bought it from; not knocking anyone who ends up making a record during their lifetime but it just wasn't that good. Face To Face has been on something like 6 record labels with several albums to their name and all sorts of six-degrees-of-separation with their band members. Being from Southern California during the rise of a new wave of punk in the mid-1990s, I feel like Face To Face was more of a local favorite than a mainstream success. They played a huge chunk of Big Choice which was a breakout record for them (and as my co-worker Loni educated me, their second album), as well as stuff from their self-titled. They are one of those bands that has the respect of a lot of people just for sticking to a particular sound, saying what they mean, and sounding just so tried and true.

Anywho, Trever Keith, the lead singer, is one earnest dude. He's engaging but incredibly thankful to the crowd for being awesome (he noted that NYC always gives Face To Face the biggest reception besides L.A.). He's got this snotty voice but with a low-end tone to it, it's very accessible and interesting.

Heavy on the power chords and big, simple rhyming lyrics, they sound like a west-coast, skater punk band that pulled out a hook or two every song. Lyrically I always thought Face To Face was so bank; they minced epic words with a big-hearted nature, which could turn out cheesy but they make it work and put some power behind it.

They did 3 song tears and then would take a minute to thank the crowd, and then start all over again; the circle pit opened up several times to a fairly large size, but little crowd surfing.

The crowd was mostly older, or at least above 24 I would say; Face To Face is probably one of those bands that the young'uns wouldn't necessarily get into at this point and they haven't been active for a while either (just a hunch, not a statement I'll back up by any means). Lots of 35 year olds yelling the songs that they wanted to hear, which I always found annoying. In the beginning there was this girl in front of me who had a ponytail from somewhat short hair so the tail jutted out and swiped my face a few times, which kinda sucked but once the crowd got moving her and her old man moved toward the front.

In the end though, a great concert. I wish I wasn't fighting a nasty runny nose but I still had lots of fun; their music was built for sing alongs and huge chants and it was good chemistry between the band and the audience.

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