We Were Promised Jetpacks has hammered out two great albums now after unleashing 2011's In the Pit of the Stomach, which took the band's nimble and frantic but excruciatingly anthemic, melodic indie rock and diversified the tempos and moods. It provided fresh reasoning to drive down to Boston from the North Shore on a Tuesday night and check out this stop of the Scottish band's current U.S. tour, after appearances at Coachella the prior weekends.
A friend and I arrived just before Breton was set to take the stage. I wasn't really trying to get to the venue in time to see the members play, though, having sampled a clip from their bandcamp a couple hours prior and being left unimpressed. Ultimately, I'm definitely glad we caught them: They were great. Like, GREAT. Now, granted, that might largely be because they reminded me a lot of their U.K. peers and personal favorites, Foals. Specifically, 2010's Total Life Forever. At times, the resemblance was even laughable. That being said, Breton had locked into this mathy, electronic-tinged dance-rock groove that had me compelled through every head-bobbing composition, while a film projector illuminated images (random stock footage of street-wise British youth culture; from moving cars; etc.) on the wall behind them. They were clearly young, scrappy-looking kids, but they knocked out these songs with a lot of pep and rhythm that the rest of the crowd (we were up on the balcony with a nice full view of the packed floor) seemed to really get into as the set went on. Thumbs up.
The thing that was great about the first time I saw We Were Promised Jetpacks play was that the band only had one album to its name, and it was still relatively new. The band played with such passion and hunger that you could tell that these songs, even as they started to age, still meant a lot to the members. Granted, WWPJ was loud--really fucking loud, actually--but just overwhelmingly impressive in both execution and feeling. The same could be said here, minus a few decibels: This was a quartet of young Scottish dudes without pomp, grandeur or aesthetic flashiness just bowling out creative and anthemic songs.
Naturally, the biggest response came to older singles like "Quiet Little Voices" and "Ships with Holes Will Sink," which had as wild a crowd as could be given Boston's no-mosh policy. But the band made the set fully satisfying and well-rounded with the inclusion of more versatile fare like the almost sludgy-sounding, far darker "Hard to Remember," and "Keeping Warm," with its elongated post-rock intro. Vocalist/guitarist Adam Thompson commanded a constant, compelling chamber of echo on his voice, and knew all the right moments to step back from the mic and let some distance in for added effect, at one point creating the only sound in the room (The comment from my friend, who had never even heard of the band before tonight, upon seeing that: "Fucking awesome.").
Their precision, really, was near-flawless: After botching the intro to "Roll Up Your Sleeves," the band opted to go for "Medicine" and start the former back up again afterwards. The flow didn't seem at all interrupted, though.
At one point in the set list they played a song I didn't recognize at all: Setlist.fm users seem to think it's called "Peace Sign." Google doesn't provide me any other information on it. The song was solid, but the seeming lack of information out there on it is weird.
In any event, We Were Promised Jetpacks killed it, and that just seems to be how the band does things on the regular. With now two great albums under their collective belt, it's wild to imagine their setlist and show getting even better next time around.
Set list (10:05-11:15):
- Short Bursts
- Human Error
- Quiet Little Voices
- Hard to Remember
- Boy in the Backseat
- Keeping Warm
- Ships with Holes Will Sink
- Roll Up Your Sleeves
- Sore Thumb
- Pear Tree
- It's Thunder and It's Lightning