I've seen Dear Leader a whole bunch over the past few years. I'd say they're easily my favorite local band, and I'll pretty much see them whenever they play. But, after playing the Best Music Poll earlier this year they headed into the studio to record a new album and didn't play any dates in the US.
When I saw them show up on the TT the Bear's Calendar, I knew I'd be there. The fact that Campaign for Real Time, the latest winner of the Rock 'n Roll Rumble, and apparently a pretty amazing live band, would be opening, it made for an interesting bill.
So, fighting a little bit of sleepyness, I headed out to Cambridge to catch the show. I got there a little after 9:30 to catch the tail end of Boone's set. There were moments of good here, but it just didn't resonate with me. They, honestly, sounded a bit noise rocky to me (though, it could have just been the mix at TT's last night, which was atrocious), but it just didn't work. I like my songs to be a bit tighter.
The second band was the New Idea Society, which features Stephen Brodsky of Cave In fame. I've never been a big Cave In fan, but I'd seen him play a live solo show where he showed off his musical tastes, covering Brian Wilson and a bunch of great little pop tunes. Some of that pop goodness bleeds into the New Idea Society sound, and there were a couple of songs that had me nodding along and wondering how I had missed these guys before. Then they'd break out a song so excrutiatingly navel-gazing that the crowd literally didn't react. They finished a song, stopped, and there was just no reaction from the crowd. Just sort of stunned silence. At this point, I was dreading having to wait another 75 minutes for Dear Leader to arrive.
Then Campaign for Real Time took the stage and pretty much owned the place for the next 45 minutes. I don't even know how to describe it. It's a rock/funk band with some smattering of the new wavey sound featuring some Moogs and organs, and then the occasional drop of some hip-hop. All topped off with more energy then anyone should be allowed to display. Ever. It was impossible not to be drawn in. Just a great show, even if the mix was so bad that I really had no clue what they were ever saying. Given that Dear Leader's sound is a bit more straight ahead and driven than the manic energy of C4RT, I was a little curious how they'd follow up this act.
Well, they did it by just playing straight ahead balls out and blowing the doors off the place. It's not always a good thing when a group takes the stage and basically plays all of the songs from their new album, right in a row. But Dear Leader's been working on some of these songs for the last 6-9 months, so most of the crowd had heard them before. Starting off with the amazingly anthemic "Nightmare Alleys" and moving right into "Radar", opened the show fantastically. They just blew through songs from the new album, one after another, with little more than a couple of sentences to the crowd, instead just milking in the fact that pretty much everyone there knew most of the words to a bunch of unreleased songs.
Finishing off the set, they broke out the crowd favorite (and my personal fave) "My Life as a Wrestler" with crowd participation, segueing nicely into "Raging Red", including the chorus from The Pixies' "Monkey Gone to Heaven". They walked off stage leaving a pretty raucous crowd behind, before coming out to blow through two high energy versions of "Corroded Anchor" and "Billions Served" before the rest of the band bowed out while Aaron Perrino finished with the newish tune "Lead the Way".
We got one more Aaron solo encore, and is was well worth it, as he came out and broke into the opening riff from The Sheila Divine's "I'm a Believer" and it was pretty much crowd singalong time, which seemed to amuse Aaron to no end, and finished off a tight 75 minute set. Well worth the 10 bucks to get in and has me pretty amped to get the new album (in November) and hoping that they start playing more shows to continue to show off the new stuff.
Remember you can keep track of the shows I'm interested in my checking out the Concert Calendar.