Show Review: Boys Like Girls and many more at The Warfield, 10/23/09

by Gordon Elgart on October 24, 2009

Watching the watchers watch the watched

Watching the watchers watch the watched

Being able to go see all the best shows that come through town is the best part of writing for a Bay Area music site. The flip-side of this is that sometimes we need to see some of the … not best shows that come through town as well. Since I never judge in advance, and sometimes I’m surprised, going to see a show with four bands I’ve never heard and a fifth I’ve fondly dismissed in the past, is either a blessing or a curse.  So which one of these was Boys Like Girls, Cobra Starship, The Maine, Rocket to the Moon and Versa Verge?

The night started early with Versa Verge, who went on stage at 6:30 and were off stage by 6:45.  This quick set of theirs meant I missed the whole thing eating dinner across the street. I came back, disappointed I hadn’t been able to judge them for myself, and asked a couple of staff members how they were.

“Awesome! The singer is really hot, and they sound great!  I bought their CD!” I paraphrase here, but he did say all of these things.

“Awful, so bad, you’re lucky you were at dinner.” Again, paraphrasing.  This sort of talk would repeat throughout the night, as the staffers come down harshly on either side of the line about this show.  It’s either great or terrible, and there doesn’t seem to be any room for in between.

The second band up was Rocket to the Moon.  I’d like to tell you about them, but this is what I remember about them: they started with a shortened cover of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me,” and they had my favorite t-shirt of the night.

To earn points, put a giant cat on your shirt.

To earn points, put a giant cat on your shirt.

What I noticed while watching this band was that the crowd–made up almost entirely of teenage girls–was really enthusiastic for this pretty much unknown band. When I see an older crowd at a show, the opening band really has to fight for any sort of reaction, needing to keep people’s interest so that they don’t go out to the back and drink. For Rocket to the Moon, as unforgettable as I thought they were, this must have been a tremendous night. The crowd jumped and shouted and pushed to the front of the stage as if they were the biggest band in the world. Kudos to the concert-goers tonight!

Next up was a band called The Maine.  They’re from Phoenix, and they played rather straightforward rock, and they were a bit creepy. I’m guessing they were the oldest band on stage tonight, and they kept swearing a lot.

“Look at us!  We’re bad boys with tattoos, and we swear, and we play ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ and call all the 14-year old girls sexy and your parents will hate us, so please keep screaming.” I paraphrase again.

The highlight of their set–there really was one–was when they had some girl from the audience come on stage and sing the chorus to one of their songs. “Girls do what they want. Guys do what they can,” was how it goes.  Ah, the empowerment of women, as seen through creepy boy band rock.

I’ll take some time here to talk about the cameras at these shows.  Some of the people here spend more time trying to get a photo than they do watching the band. What happens to all of these photos? Do they go up on Facebook, MySpace, Twitpic? Why do we need so many photos. The amount of memory used to store every picture taken at just this one show is staggering. I’d really like more bands to recommend to their fans that they put the cameras down and dance. I wish more people would just put the cameras down and dance on their own–make a memory that lasts long after you’ve forgotten where you saved those photos.

The fourth band up on stage was Cobra Starship, who first rose to fame with the “Snakes on a Plane” song. This was by far the best band I had seen so far. They weren’t at all typical, mixing in synths to the power pop sound being played all night. The stage presence lead singer Gabe Saporta is excellent, and he manages to get the girls screaming without any overt creepiness. What I thought would be a one-hit wonder is turning into a continuing project, and is still churning out catchy singles.

At one point in the show, they asked if anyone had their new album, Hot Mess. After lots of screaming, they asked that everyone get it. “We don’t care if you pay for it, just as long as you hear it.” Later, Boys Like Girls would repeat the same sentiment, asking fans to download their new album, legally or illegally. It’s nice to see the bands recognize that their music is free, and their money comes from touring, sponsorships and merchandise. I wonder if the record label representatives cringe every time they hear a band say this. Myself, I celebrate a little inside.

Finally, Boys Like Girls took the stage. They said they were from Boston, which surprised me, because I generally assume any band that looks and sounds like this is from Los Angeles. These guys were way too polished for me, and without a doubt, sound like a band that names themselves after a Good Charlotte song should sound.  They use live auto-tune, which gives the vocals a processed feel. To some, that would be good, but I like the unsure character of live vocals.

None of their songs were bad, the drummer (and his light-up drum set) were truly excellent, and they only called the young girls “sexy” once or twice, so I was entertained by them enough. One staffer explained how he felt about the music. “I can’t really handle all the crazy screaming, but I try to think about whether or not I would like this music if I were listening to it at home, and I think I probably would.”

As is often the case for these five band shows, the crowd was smaller for band five than it was for band four because fans of band four (Cobra Starship) were either in the merchandise line or have gone home with their parents, who have come downstairs to fetch them because it’s past their bedtime. (Parents tend to buy balcony tickets for these shows while they chaperon their children on the floor, and then spend much of the show fruitlessly trying to find their kids on the crowded floor.)

Can you find the band in this photo?

Can you find the band in this photo?

The crowd got a lot smaller at the very end as Boys Like Girls played a song called “The Great Escape,” and invited “everyone” to get up on stage.  They repeated this over and over until everyone who could was up on stage. This was an absolute thrill for the people who got up there, although some of them spent the whole song taking pictures of the stage, and of their friends, and of themselves on stage.

What else would you expect?

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie Carney October 25, 2009 at 9:50 am

That is a good question, where do all these pictures go? I certainly can never find them for my reviews!


Rene October 25, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Do you have any more pictures of the people dancing on stage? Because thats me in the white shirt next to Paul on stage and all of my friends camera’s were dead so I want some photos from it!!!!!

Please e-mail me or comment back if you have any!


Gordon Elgart October 25, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Hey Rene! I only took two photos, which I’ll email to you. Thanks for stopping by!


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