Monsters are Waiting
The giant Zune (Microsoft’s sort of answer to the iPod) bus out front of the Larimer Lounge was a dead give away that a band more grandiose than the average 1986 Econoline-driving group was playing. I was expecting stage props, swank industry professionals and wall to wall people. However, the scene inside wasn’t too much different than an average weeknight show. The venue was about half full and Monsters are Waiting was on stage playing to an eclectic crowd of bike messengers, hipsters, mortgage brokers, indie kids, and your typical run of the mill jeans and running shoe wearing Westerner. If Maximo Park was looking for a cross section of the American West - minus cowboys - they were going to see it.
Maximo Park (courtesy of myspace.com/maximopark)
Monsters rocked and crooned through their brand of dancy rock, but technical difficulties during their last two songs forced them to stop. Singer Annalee Fery did a short cover of a raunchy rap tune (I don’t know the name of the tune, alas my rap chops are not as developed as they should be). Fery’s rap was interrupted by her giggling which was a nice crack in her façade of serious and gloomy that she personified throughout the beginning performance Monsters eventually vacated the stage disappointed but not downtrodden.
During the break I heard one of the top 10 quotes of 2007: “You don’t know how bad shit smells until you have it smeared all over your face.” Somehow I missed the preface to this statement, but it doesn’t matter, nothing can save you from a quote like that. Not only that, but it seemed that this guy was trying to pick up on a girl. His next line was probably “You don’t know how well puke works for a slip and slide until you’ve tried it!” He probably scored.
After Mr. Smooth’s quote we had an awkward small talk discussion with a mortgage broker who was moving back to New Jersey. She had never heard of Maximo Park, but some people she knew were into them, so she said she tagged along. I’m sure she felt she got her money’s worth that night.
Maximo Park took the stage, singer Paul Smith was donning his usual bowler hat and sported a tie and blazer. The show swept me to an underground club in England in the mid 80’s. I never attended a club in the mid 80’s in England, but I imagine it felt something like Maximo Park’s performance. They opened by cranking out a high energy version of “Graffiti” with Smith spazzing out on stage emphatically singing the chorus “I’ll write graffiti if you sing to me in French!”. Hell yes!
Although the venue was only half full, and the crowd seemed to be a half and half mix of those who had heard of Maximo Park and those who hadn’t, the energy generated by Smith alone was enough to power the evening. The rest of the band (with the exception of keyboardist Lukas Wooller) seemed content to simply play their instruments. On most songs they could have been supplanted by Chuck E Cheese’s band. Smith and Wooller held the energy throughout the entire performance though, and they wowed. Smith’s stage presence seems more suited to a larger venue, but he was doing what he could with what he had to work with.
Highlights of the evening included “Apply Some Pressure”, “Going Missing”, and “Girls Who Play Guitar”. Smith was genuine in his minimal stage banter, at one point stating that it was nice to see friendly faces so far from home in a city in which they had never played. At another point he made a comment about the bus they had and how ludicrous it was to have such a huge touring vessel. Humility goes a long way, especially when you’re a band with the charisma for a concert hall, but you’re playing a club.
Much dancing and fun ensued and Park’s set flew by. They came out for the requisite encore, which seemed a little forced, but any excuse for more Maximo Park is fine by me. Hopefully the west was good to the boys from Newcastle, and they’ll be back to Brit-rock the socks off bigger and bigger crowds.