After a long car ride on a beautiful day we had arrived at Liberty Hall and were transferred to another time as the band Sleepy Sun took the stage. Sleepy Sun had taken us to a time where the music was honest and a band just needed to immerses itself in the music to be noticed. The classic sound of this sunny bad had taken over the crowd and won over their pop rock minds. They had done the same to me as well as I had enjoyed Sleepy Sun though head phones but that is nothing compared to how I feel about the band live. They have this over all feeling that just does not come over on record the way it does live. Sleepy Sun’s live sound is just a power house of layered harmonies creating sounds that brought the tween crowd to it’s knees.
With male and female lead vocals from Bret Constantino and Rachel Williams, their voices blended perfectly, adding an eerie feeling of psychedelic amusement. This is one of the first bands that I’ve ever seen flawlessly integrate their voices into the music as if their voices were an instrument to be learned and mastered. Together, they were able to throw their voices at the mics and through to the crowd. They had even mentioned that were feeling a bit under the weather, but no one would have noticed otherwise. Bret was also fantastic with the harmonica, and along with his swing groove to the sounds, he played like Dylan. Guitarists Matt Holliman and Evan Reiss, bassist Jack Allen, and drummer Brian Tice were equally talented. As most of them had hair long enough to cover their faces, it was obvious they didn’t need eyes to play the notes flawlessly. This obviously sounds like something from the seventies, and when you see them, it’s confirmed. I definitely got a influential vibe of The Doors, but there was also a feeling that they were heavy listeners to bands like Santana and Radiohead. They have a new album set to hit the shelves on June 1st called Fever, but in the meantime, you could pick up their debut album Embrace, out now.
After the revelation that was Sleepy Sun left the stage, it was time for the Arctic Monkeys. I could tell this because the girl behind me screamed so loud as the band took the stage that she started puberty. The band immediately jumped into Dance Little Liar from their new album Humbug. This song not only broke the anticipation into a mosh pit of fury it also split Liberty Hall into two groups; those who enjoyed the Arctic Monkeys entire catalog and those that only knew of their hits from Your Favorite Worst Nightmare. I had never seen such a split as it was literally right down the middle of Liberty Hall and I was standing on the the breaking point. To my left we had mild listeners that would shyly bob their heads and to my right was a fan frenzy riot that only survived to jump with every beat.
The shadows of jumping fans were only accentuated by the explosive light show that seeped from the stage. The lighting only added to the overall performance with reds and blues and a multitude of strobe lights that only amplified the sound making songs like Still Take you Home even more explosive. During all the chaos, singer Alex Turner would slowly fix his gaze into the crowd strumming his guitar with purpose and letting the music speak for him. Alex would drive the set though ups and lows brilliantly giving his minions time to breath before he would turn up the tempo.
This is one of my only problems with the show, the constant up and down worked in the beginning but as the show continued it seemed to run into moments of predictably. It was obvious that they were making a statement to the crowd that they were trying to leave their pop rock sensibility behind them. This was especially apparent when they reached the moment of the night that all the mild listening fans had been waiting for but as they played Florescent Adolescent something was noticeably different and it wasn’t only the arrangement. Though they had dropped the tempo in the second half of the song you couldn’t help but tell that the band had grown tired of the song and ready to leave it where they had found it. The sound had become an exact replication of the set list: a strong beginning and newly melodic middle and an amped up rock and roll ending. The only problem was that at moments it would lose my interest.
I would have moments where my adrenaline would start to pump only to be striped away by a more soulful melody and then the same would happen when I would get in to my deeper musical mood. I respect The Arctic Monkeys for trying to change it up but the over all feel was lost on me as the night wore on. This is not to say that the show was bad, it was just a little tainted. The band pulled every song off with precision and their performance of 505 was definitely a highlight and I could tell that Alex was getting into the lyrics. Another nice surprise was their rendition of Nick Caves’s Red Right Hand, adding their own flavor the Arctic Monkeys definitely pulled it off.
The entire show was a definite success but as I left I had the that eerie feeling that the Sleepy Sun had outshone The Arctic Monkeys. Sleepy Sun’s overall performance and their ability to out shine the sound of their album left them as the band I was talking about as we drove home on that warm spring night.
I give Sleepy Sun and The Arctic Monkeys 3 “Did the headliner just get upstaged?” out of 5.
By Ryan Davis