Thursday, March 15, 2018

AWOLNATION, Nothing But Thieves – A Concert review

    Reviewed by Alan Lundberg
     A trio of Indie bands made their way to the Fox Theater in Oakland Tuesday March 13th for a concert that was decidedly entertaining.  Irontom, an upstart Indie band started off the show with an energetic set that featured some brilliant guitar solos from Zach Irons, who also is the featured guitarist in AWOLNATION. While the lead singer had some quirks that were a bit distracting, their opening set got the crowd in the mood for what was yet to come.
     Next up was Nothing But Thieves, a band from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England that is having immense success in Europe and beginning to make an impact in the US.  The best way to describe NBT is they have great energy, and their music is characterized by layered and anthemic guitar riffs that could be right at home in large stadium venues. There were two standout songs from their performance, their current single, “Sorry,” which was nuanced and displayed just how tight the band is and their closing number, “Amsterdam,” which was heart pumping and the type of song with which you should close a show. The guitarists Dominic Craik and Joe Landgridge-Brown and especially the singer Conor Mason and his tenor vocals displayed amazing dexterity and musicality and although their set had only seven songs, still made for a great concert experience. Throughout their set, there was a palpable feeling that the band really liked each other and what they were doing which carried through their music and their onstage presence. Even before the show, the band was in the bar, casually mingling and taking pictures with their fans. So, if you have a chance to see this band in a small venue, do it before they become mainstream stadium rockers. You won’t regret it.

     Last, but not least, was the headliner AWOLNATION.  Opening their set with a stage that looked like a cross between an old Western Movie and a New Age Yoga Studio, and led by front man Aaron Bruno and some serious strobe light action, AWOLNATION moved through their set in a measured but brisk pace. Taking it all in, I never knew how serious to take this band—there was a point in the set that I almost thought Bruno, wearing a cape and cowboy hat, would break into a Weird Al Yankovic parody.  Their set leaned heavily on their new album release, “Here Come The Runts”, and included crowd favorites, “Seven Sticks of Dynamite,” “Not Your Fault,” and their encore song, “Sail.” 
      This was the second time I’ve seen AWOLNATION and it was obvious this time they were much more polished and Bruno was better able to command the front of the stage and move the crowd at will.  They seem to have less electronics and the rhythm section is more of a presence lead by the talented guitarist Irons, and bassist Michael Goldman along with drummer Isaac Carpenter.  The attendees, singing and yelling at the band throughout the set, were obviously big fans.
     All in all, for an Indie show on a random Tuesday night in Oakland, it was a excellent time.

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