Surely you’ve thought or heard this before: “If I decide to go into the city in this weather, it better be worth my while.”
On Jan. 24, in the wake of the season’s first major snowstorm to hit New York City and its neighboring states, this statement had to be on the minds and lips of more than a few concertgoers at Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom. So ultimately, it all came down to the night’s headline act, the Athens, Ga.-bred trio The Whigs, and the Massachusetts-based bands Mean Creek and You Won’t to play an important role in whether the effort was worthwhile or worthless.
First up was the quartet Mean Creek, which delivered an energetic, positive set and seemed overjoyed by the chance to play in the early slot. Singer Chris Keene’s enthusiasm extended to his between-song banter, which included more than the usual amount of thank-you shout-outs.
You Won’t exuded a confident stage presence, but the two-man band’s set suffered from too-busy presentation, with Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri either stepping away from the core foundation of guitar and drums, respectively, or multitasking with extra instruments. The quirkiness factor went up a notch with the appearance of a long piece of white tubing, which Arnoudse sang through during an a cappella take on the Elvis Presley hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
Very little chitchat
The musical strains that accompany the Atlanta Braves’ signature tomahawk chop preceded the onstage arrival of The Whigs, who kicked into their hour-plus set with “The Particular,” from their latest album, 2014’s Modern Creation.
Singer-guitarist Parker Gispert, sporting what can only be described as a look resembling Tonight’s the Night era Neil Young, kept the set tight with very little chitchat. Not a lot needs to be said when bandmates —bassist Tim Deaux and drummer Julian Dorio — are right in the pocket with you, most notably on the Mission Control standout “Production City.”
An early peak during the high-energy performance came during “Waiting,” a track from 2012’s Enjoy the Company. From there, The Whigs kept surfing through their catalog at a fairly economical rate, never wasting time with instrument-changing or crowd-pandering.
The main set came to a close with a solid version of another Mission Control track, “Already Young,” and after a quick stage exit (and a reprise of the Braves’ chop music), the band returned with a rousing cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel.”
After The Whigs departed for good, it didn’t take long for the house lights to come up, prompting audience members to exit onto Delancey Street. What just went down inside the Bowery Ballroom surely made braving the cold again — and in the first place — a little easier.
— By Mike Madden