"This is actually part of a conceptual piece we've been working on..."

When I entered Backbooth at around 9:30, I was greeted with that phrase. Thankfully(?) it turned out to be a case of not being able to accurately tune a guitar rather than some sort of uber-pretentious prog piece. It wasn't until about ten minutes later that local support Fever had that whole tuning thing figured out and got the show on the road, but with that bit of amateurism aside, they really put on an impressive set. I may be a bit biased, I tend to enjoy pretty much anything that buries reverb-y female vocals low in the mix, but I think this band really could end up being something special. While these songs weren't at dance tempos by any means, they still brought the intensity - their Tame Impala at a fraction of the speed m.o. went over pretty well. I've rarely seen so many heads nodding for an unknown local band, and what's even more impressive is that this trio made their live debut opening for No Age less than a month ago.

Yuck was just as impressive as expected. Their brand of 90s indie rock revivalism seemed to strike a chord with the crowd, the first few rows of people got straight to jumping around, and that's more than many opening bands can say. Though their debut has yet to be officially released, the crowd seemed to be relatively familiar with their material, even the b-side 'Coconut Bible'. The band's dueling Jazzmaster attack(Thurston and Lee, anyone?) certainly worked as well in a live setting as it had for their aforementioned predecessors, they put on a good show. 'The Wall' was appropriately catchy and upbeat, and 'Rubber' was appropriately downbeat and punishing. It's similarities to 'Mayonaise' by Smashing became even more apparent live, interestingly enough. I was thoroughly impressed.

It's hard to describe the performance of the songs themselves, mostly because they were all relatively straightforward takes on the album versions. They went up there and they just played songs, no pyrotechnics, no laser shows, no flashy guitar spins. They went up there and played like professionals, which in itself is pretty noteworthy for a band whose oldest member still can't legally consume alcohol onstage.

Now, though the crowd was good to the two openers the same couldn't be said once Smith Westerns took the stage. So much of a concert experience, for me at least, relies on appropriate crowd reaction. I'm not saying that people should be dancing at a folk show, but for a garage-y band such as Smith Westerns, I was expecting a raucous crowd. As the set started, the crowd reaction was minimal to say the least. A few heads nodded a couple songs into the set, and one brave kid attempted to bring the party with a stage dive, but to no avail -he was not caught. For some reason this crowd just stood there. It was certainly no fault of the band's. The response to the sped up take on 'Dreams'- one of the standouts from their first album, was equally chilled, even though the third guitar part made it one of the musical highlights. While the crowd was tame for most of the set, thankfully people got into the singles. Both 'Be My Girl' from their first album, and 'Weekend' from their astounding second became sing-a-longs, however timid. It was just weird, the band was so perfect, 'Girl In Love' stomped along, 'Dye The World' Thin Lizzy guitar harmonies floated around, and 'All Die Young' sounded even more heartbreaking than it did on record, but the crowd just wasn't into it. Smith Westerns looked like a rock band (Cullen Omori just radiates cool), they sounded like a rock band (each song seemingly took on its intended life as soundtracks to dive bars), but the crowd treated them as if they were some no-name jazz pianist in a hotel lobby - they received polite applause and head nods at best. It's a shame, an appropriate audience could've turned this good set into an outstanding one.