Monday, April 11, 2005

Concert Review:  Ash, The Bravery, Metro, April 8

I've gotten over my initial wrath, but I feel like I'm cursed when it comes to seeing Ash. Of their four stops in Chicago in support of Free All Angels, I missed one because of health problems and one because I was sitting in traffic for two hours trying to get to godforsaken Tinley Park where they were the opening band on the Area2 festival. So I was thrilled that they were scheduled to headline the Metro. Until I got there a little past 8 p.m. and discovered that, rather than headlining, they were in the middle slot and I'd missed the opening of their set.

I can guess the scenario on why this happened: They are probably touring with the Bravery. The Bravery aren't really hyped, but they do have a massive advertising budgeting, their fancy coiffures arousing public curiosity. Once the audience gets a load of the haircuts, they weren't bothering to stick around for Ash, who don't have the same marketing push. So the bands swapped spots to increase Ash's exposure rather than suffer the indignation of headlining to a half-empty house. But it is nonetheless a massive frustration to Ash's small but determined following, especially when I timed my arrival without regard to catching the opening acts and there was no advance announcement of the switch.

But I'll take what I can get: Tim Wheeler's young metalhead-turned-pop-punk (manifested in an astonishing collection of flying V guitars). Charlotte Hatherley's inherent coolness. The infectious giddiness of "Kung Fu." The new material from Meltdown doesn't make it an immediate must-buy, but shows the potential to grow on you.

As for the Bravery, why don't they just skip the music and cut straight to the hair styling product endorsement contract that they are so clearly gunning for, except for the mismatched keyboardist who must have been out sick the day they met with their stylist and wardrobe consultant.

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