Matt Pond PA, Street to Nowhere, Kevin Devine
Philadelphia, PA • December 5, 2006
It was one of those horribly cold nights where you just want to stay inside. However, I found myself standing outside the Theatre of the Living Arts, shivering and hoping for warmth.The doors opened on time and I watched the handful of fans bustle through security checks.
I entered the TLA and made my way up front. There had to have been about 30 people in the place. Surely, the space would fill as the night progressed, right? I hoped so, as I found my way stuck behind some kids, who couldn’t have been a day past 16.
The show opened with California natives, Street to Nowhere. I had recently come across their CD, Charmingly Awkward –not a bad first attempt. So I was anticipating to see how they sounded live.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one. One fan in the front went crazy, as their set started, jumping as if the mosh pit was full force. However, the mosh pit… well, there was no mosh pit and the audience seemed absolutely bored. I think at some points, the rest of the audience seemed more fascinated with that fan than the band. Don’t get me wrong– the band’s sound was nearly impeccable. However, the stage show lacked any kind of energy. With the attention span of a four-year-old, I found myself taking note of the audience. By perhaps their last song, the audience seemed to gain a bit more interest, nodding their heads with the beat. The members of Straylight Run came out to join the band on the last song, seeing as this was the last night of the tour.
Next up was Kevin Devine. Doing an acoustic performance, I was actually shocked to learn that he does have a band… who weren’t performing that night. About two songs in, I found myself a bit drowsy. The music droned on. I had no idea how he was playing such a large venue– it seemed more coffee house-appropriate. He did, however, have a sense of humor, lacing jokes in between songs. At one point, someone actually started talking on their cell phone. Devine stopped mid-song and called them out on it. Now true, the set may not have been the most… entertaining, but there was no reason to pull out the cell phone. Concert etiquette, people. Devine, somewhat thrown off by the fact, started the song and picked up with the rest of the set. During his last song, several members of Matt Pond PA and Street to Nowhere came out to sing back-up. They looked like they were having a grand old time and lightened things up a bit.
One thing that seriously angers me is when a band gets the equipment set up and then stands on the side of the stage. What is the big deal about starting before the fifteen minute interval is up? Personally, with the way the show was going, I was hoping that people would pick up the pace.
After Matt Pond PA finally came out on stage, I found myself intrigued by their set. I had heard of them, but never heard any of their music. I was a bit stunned. There was a cello onstage. It was amazing.The songs were great, though the technical problems started flaring up. At one point, lead singer Matt Pond got fed up with things and kicked down a guitar stand which held about three guitars. As it fell, I watched in shock… the beautiful things. Some of the crowd cheered, however. Walking back to the mic, he made a joke about how Kevin Devine had mentioned to think positive. The set ended a bit too soon for my liking.
Finally the main event. By this point, the place was starting to fill up a bit more, with fans scattered here and there in the back. Up front, it was hard to move. Straylight Run took the stage to the crowd’s delight.
I was really looking forward to the set. The band is one of the few that includes a female singer that I actually enjoy. The band struggled during the first few songs, because of technical problems and a sustain pedal. The pedal wasn’t “sustaining” as the band joked, as the problem threatened to not allow them to be able to play some of the songs. Yet, something happened, and the sustain pedal started working, much to the audience’s delight.
Overall, the set was mediocre. Nothing stood out much about it. By 11 p.m., I found myself feeling drowsy. Though a few songs shy of the whole set, I decided to head home,a bit disappointed.