Gatsbys American Dream/Portugal. The Man - live in Levittown (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Gatsbys American Dream / Portugal. The Man

live in Levittown (2006)

live show

Yeahhhh, I don't think a Gatsbys American Dream headlining tour with Portugal. The Man and Forgive Durden in support is exactly reflective of the nature of 666 despite the solidarity of the lineup, especially with the recent departure of HORSE the Band reportedly to write and record a 5-song EP inspired by the deliciousness of a Chicago pizza shop (okay...), but on June 6th, it's precisely what I saw.

But first, local openers!

Hey Envy Arcadia, here's some advice: Keep playing to 14-year-old girls, because apparently they've never heard Glassjaw before and therefore find you strikingly original. Myself? You forced me into uncontrollable bursts of laughter 4-5 times at how blatantly you ripped them off. Firstly, everything your vocalist did drew straight from Daryl Palumbo. The flailing, spazzy, sassy, flamboyant style of that man's stage presence was in full effect, as were all his little vocal nuances -- even the "ha-ha!"s! C'mon! Those sudden, panicking chug-chug riffs that initiate some sorta breakdown? Yeah, I heard those. A little bit of atmospheric ringing with soft vocal warble on top? Yeah, think that happened for plenty of the tracks on Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence. Also, your second song had the same intro as "Mu Empire." Nice try. Now find some other influences.

Enjoy Hit the Lights and all 352953 of those other post-Fall Out Boy clones? You're sure to love Sunday Night Scene, then. Sure, it smelled like metalcore was in the air with one glance of a cringeworthily mascara-clad lead singer/guitarist, but once those overly cutesy, nasally vocals brushed forth, I headed for the hills. I literally could not take more than one song of this awful, derivative, uninspired trash, and the songs I could hear through the thin basement ceiling once downstairs shopping merch weren't exactly the best call-back ever. Why are bands still doing this? It's not "fun" when you sound so much like other bands that are already watered down versions of yet other bands doing it better.

I won't lie, Forgive Durden still sound a shitton like Gatsbys. The lead singer and guitarist even resembled GAD front-man Nic Newsham only with longer hair. In the live setting, they were solid as expected. The band offered strange audio clips in between songs while the right-stage guitarist (or bassist) made all sorts of odd facial expressions, perhaps to pump up the strangely creative tendencies of the band. I wasn't floored, but I can't say the same about their album, which is however definitely enjoyable. The band's best song, "Ants" opened it up with the guitarists nice and lively. Other songs from the recent Wonderland filled out the set, including "Beware the Jubjub Bird And Shun the Frumious Bandersnatch" (the only one much of the crowd seemed to know well), "For a Dreamer, Night's the Only Time of Day," "Harry Frazee And No No Nanette" (pretty sure), and "Il Tango Della Signora Francesco Di Bartolommeo Di Zanobi Del Giocondo," which ended with the entire band turning to drums and furiously slamming away, with two members of Portugal. The Man joining them in their donned masks for a nice finish.

Portugal. The Man was flat out hysterically messy, but I liked it. The front-man presented himself in this weird 19th century getup with mustache and tan vest suit, and it gave the band's strange song compositions a bizarre aesthetic to match. Two of the members wore animal masks (Sound of Animals Fighting?) for a few songs into the set, and...okay, okay, so the band probably does a few "weird for the sake of weird" things, that I can't really defend. However, they've got such a peculiar sound it's hard not to be intrigued. High-pitched vocals over methodical, squealing guitars and ditzy keyboards to top it off. That aforementioned front-man's guitar string broke right away and it took him several songs to get in tune; it did sound a bit off for a while. Set inclusions were raucous opener "Chicago," "Waiter," "How the Leopard Got Its Spots," "Stables & Chairs," and "Marching with 6," which was basically a set-closing dance party -- Nic from Gatsbys came out for his portion of guest vocals, and the whole crowd was shaking. Another fantastic finish.

Straight up, I'm a Gatsbys fanboy. I think their style is best put by a comment in a recent news post: "Emo done right!" It's emotional pop with punk influences and smart lyrics usually revolving around literary references or biting metaphor on the music industry. From what I hear, their forthcoming full-length no. 4, will be all about the latter -- "every lyric" is about the music industry, a surely scathing viewpoint that's likely to relate to fellow music nerds, critics, and bands. GAD themselves played flawlessly, executing all the time changes and tempos in their songs without missing a beat. Notable was drummer Rudy Gajadhar, who played a number of amazingly on-spot fills that was a sight to watch (you may remember him from Waxwing or recognize his surname since his brother in the Blood Brothers shares it). Two large poster-size banners sat on the stage symmetrically, with a shadow outline of a pig adorning each. Nic was rather interactive with the crowd, often grabbing people's heads or hands and offering a few instances of mic sharing. Even if you aren't familiar with the band it was hard not to be impressed by the energy and musical creativity expressed on the stage. And with plenty of time allotted for their headlining set, there was plenty of older material played, as you can see below in the set list; I was pretty happy to finally hear "Work Lies Sex Love..." and "We're Not Orphans" especially. "A Manifesto of Tangible Wealth" did crack me up as usual, which I still laugh at for its intro that blatantly apes Sunny Day Real Estate's "Pheurton Skeurto." Good influence to have, though. The new songs played sounded much darker, more progressive and "mature," since people like to use that word; one song in particular seemed to reference "We're Not Orphans" with its chord progression, while it or the other featured vocals from every band member. Needless to say, it's an album I'm a bit excited about, and a set that I enjoyed immensely.

Set list:

  • Shhhhhh! I'm Listening to 'Reason'
  • Theatre
  • Pompeii
  • Work Lies Sex Love Fear Hate Friendship
  • ------------------------------------------------------------------
  • A Mind of Metal and Wheels
  • Fable
  • Wholesale [as written on the set list; new song]
  • ------------------------------------------------------------------
  • A Manifesto of Tangible Wealth
  • Cut the Strings
  • The Badlands [full band version]
  • The Dragon of Pendor
  • ------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Ozy -or- OZY [also as written; new song]
  • Recondition, Reprogram, Reactivate
  • The Loosing of the Shadow
  • Encore:
  • The Taming
  • We're Not Orphans