A couple things to know before I review this show. One, Freddie (pictured above in white) was celebrating his birthday last night at the show. Two, about a month ago I incorrectly predicted that The Vaccines would come from distant odds to win the Barclaycard Mercury Prize for 2011. They were not nominated, which puts a bit of a damper on that. Though they may not be winning any big awards in the coming months, they are winning over a lot of rock fans.
Here is what i Tweeted out as I walked the long two blocks home after the show last night: “@TheRealVaccines @SchubasRock show of the year? Not for sure but pretty fucking great!” So yeah. I was pretty impressed.
The show started out well, with an opening set by a cool indie-pop band called Tennis. They did a pretty decent Daytrotter session last year, and their live stuff sounded really good. I missed the first third of it, but what I saw definitely warrants a second viewing.
One thing that took me off guard at the beginning of The Vaccines set was how much eye contact Justin Young makes with the audience. I felt like he wanted to connect with the crowd in a very personal way, and it was nice to see after years of going to shows where the frontperson does everything in their power to avoid that intimacy. I also felt like he was testing me to see if I knew the lyrics to some of the songs (luckily I did, mostly).
Another thing that surprised me was which songs were popular in the audience and which ones were less warmly received. I thought the song “Post Breakup Sex” would get a huge response, because that was the hit single that I knew before I got the record. It was actually “If You Wanna” that got the crowd whipped up in a frenzy. I thought the guy next to me was gonna start convulsing or speaking in tongues, he was so enthralled. As was I. Also, the song “Wetsuit,” which I like, but didn’t think it would be a riot-starter, really got the crowd going.
I was happy to see that most of the people at Schubas knew the band and were totally into them. Honestly, the last time I was in a crowd that sweaty was last years Titus Andronicus show at Subterranean. It feels good to get hot and exhaust yourself cheering with a big crowd, and The Vaccines are to thank for everyone’s wonderful night.
I do feel bad for the stage, though. By the end it was trashed in the most polite way possible. Justin threw himself onto the drumset at one point, and then later knocked bassist Arni Hjorvar onto the set during the last song. As it came to an end, Freddie just kinda tipped his mic stand to the ground, like Sid Vicious having tea with the Queen-polite, but still kinda badass.
For pure rockin’ good times, this is a tough show to beat. The Vaccines will be back here in Chicago in September at Lincoln Hall, and I’ll be there. I hope to see all of you as well.
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