|Free Energy at the Independent last night.|
January 27, 2011
Better than: Rock bands that try to entertain a room by pretending they don't have a room to entertain.
The stage lights flashed on at the Postelles
' group-slammed chord last night like some long-forgotten but totally obvious revelation: "You are surprised!" it seemed to say. "We want to entertain you!" And, "now let us try you by sounding like a younger, more British, more upbeat, more functional, less mysterious version of the Strokes."
To some extent it worked. Originality and deadpan artistic dedication rarely gets the girls dancing like the Postelles did. After about a song and a half, that awkward gap at the front of the stage that always arises when a crowd doesn't know the band (it was the Postelles first S.F. show) was filled with a line of swaying hipster ladies, grinning and shaking and making eyes at the band's skinny, effervescent frontman. Black-booted singer-dude himself proceeded to hop around, whisper in band mates' ears, flirt with his dapper hat, and take on rockstar contortions like he'd been doing it for years.
With quick tempos, constant dynamic changes, and an assured tightness, the Postelles' songs hit the crowd like a tonic. Imagine all of the linearity of first-album Strokes but on a goofy and delirious Four Loko high instead of a sludgy post-High Life funk. And instead of Casablancas' gloomy growling, Postelles frontman whinnied and neighed brattily like some freshly heartbroken Brit boy, pining for his departed lass with every bit of charm he could muster.
closed the night with a set that wandered from the territory of one classic-rock band to the next. Opener "Free Energy" (gotta love a band with a song named after itself) swilled Thin Lizzy and AC/DC in equal measure, while the backward-looking third song, "Dream City," owes everything to the twin-guitar attack of Lizzy. Later the band played a new tune ("Backscratcher"?) that could have been an outtake of Sticky Fingers
-era Rolling Stones. "Hope Child" is 92 percent AC/DC. Free Energy closed with a song (not sure of the name) that borrowed the riff from "Wild Thing." And to kick off the encore, just to make sure we knew they knew, Free Energy sent the room into convulsions with a sweet cover of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down."
Meat-and-potatoes classic rock might be stale, but it's as good as ever at yanking a room into a good time. By the end, Free Energy had the crowd pogoing, thrusting arms in the air, and even dancing onstage. The band members themselves wore magnificent grins. So it was no surprise when singer Paul Sprangers, after an hour of flailing, slamming a tambourine around, and generally behaving as wildly as possible, announced that this was the band's best-ever S.F. show.
Sit down, man: I've never seen tables and chairs out at the Independent, but last night four were set up in front of the bar -- probably in anticipation of the smallish (but enthusiastic) crowd.
They B too early: Missed opener A B & the Sea at their 8:15 p.m. start time. Bummer.
By the way: The Postelles' debut album (out in April) was produced by the Strokes' Albert Hammond, Jr., so you know I'm not kidding about how much they sound like the Strokes.
Off the record: Free Energy comes off so much better onstage than on the band's self-titled debut album.
628 Divisadero, San Francisco, CA