Fictionist - Our openers from tonight also hail from Provo, Utah, the birthplace of our headliners. The first notes sound like 'My Sharona' crossed with 'Whip It' but lighter, which was not a particularly interesting combination to my ears. But the next song toughened up the sound considerably. From then on the twin guitar power and driving rhythm section kept me engaged. There were plenty of dance and pop moves within the sound, but it rocked hard and loud, so it worked for both myself and the young sold-out crowd.
Coin - And from Nashville comes this quartet who doesn't sound remotely like Nashville (By now I've learned that this is a big city and plenty of bands of all styles). Coin is a good fit for this show. They are not as heavy as the openers, but with the softer vocals, warm hooks, and dance beats, they captivate the crowd pretty quickly. They had pretty good drive as the set went on. It was all decent enough aside from the singer's desire for 'cheap pops'. That is a wrestling term for getting the crowd on your side through hackneyed cliches. In this case, it was gratuitous use of yelling out 'DC' in various forms. I counted 12 times and if I am counting, I am distracted from what the band is there to do. Still a decent enough set from the youngest band tonight, who will get a chance to play to their new fans at the U Street Music Hall this autumn.
Neon Trees - This Utah foursome is fleshed out by extra guitars and keyboards which make for a serious wall of sound. This was a well constructed billing as this band combined the power of the first band with the extra catchy hooks of the second and put it all together for a strong package delivered to a very happy crowd. There is the feeling of a 'boy band' type crowd although it is old enough where I am at in the balcony. Normally, this is not my thing, but I am glad I came tonight as these bands show some serious rock moves and seem like a great antidote for the manufactured pop bands designed for kids. You can grow up to the Neon Trees and hopefully a lot more, as they will give you the hooks you crave, but show off enough of what better rock music is all about. I would almost call them a gateway band, but they have been doing this long enough that they have a strong presence overlapping a few genres in the rock world. So they have carved out a chunk of territory for them themselves and they showed it off tonight with much aplomb.
Quote of the Night - and this is just one more nail for my retirement coffin... As I was sitting and reading my book in between bands up in the balcony, I guy walked by and asked "So, are you a chauffeur tonight as well?"