May 26, 2010
Atomic Tom, New Politics @ The Studio at Webster Hall | 5.20.10
JezebelMusic.com @ The Studio at Webster Hall
May 20, 2010 | Atomic Tom, New Politics
You know those neighborhood bands that rehearse in garages and there’s always that one cool mom who doesn’t mind the noise and just wants them to play music whenever they want? And once in a while she pops her head in with lemonade and cookies and tries to sneak a listen but they aren’t really ready to be heard and they kind of just want to eat their cookies and have her go away until they’re ready to perform? And then suddenly they’ve gone and gotten signed to Universal Republic and have a single out on iTunes and are playing some of the most respected venues in New York City?
That’s the best way I know to describe my relationship with Atomic Tom.
I’ve been following this band for four years, partially because I liked their music when I first heard them, and very much because their bassist, Phil Galitzine, is one of my closest friends. Three years ago going to an Atomic Tom show meant going to support him, not necessarily going for “the show.” That’s all behind me now. For the past year, I’ve watched Atomic Tom transform from a group of guys who really liked playing rock shows to a band that knows how to play rock shows. So when I asked if I could write a review for last night’s headlining set on Webster Hall’s Studio, I didn’t do it for my friends. I did it to see a rock show.
Cut to the last Thursday.
I’m happy to say I made it to the Webster Hall Studio in time to see New Politics, a band from Denmark recently signed on Sony Music-RCA/Jive. Shaggy hair, ripped teas, and waify models in the audience made me feel like I was in a scene from The Hills and Audrina was going to pop up at any moment and pretend she was scouting them. That thought was running through my mind when New Politics opened up their set and holy s*** – I was completely unprepared for these guys. Part Beastie Boys, part Green Day, part America’s Next Best Dance Crew, (That’s two MTV reality references in one review. I am ashamed), part Blur? These guys were rocking The Studio space like they were ready to blow it to hell. From their break dancing lead singer to their beast of a drummer, the whole room felt like it was being electrocuted. Their single, “Yeah Yeah Yeah” is now out on iTunes – it’s the one that starts and sounds like “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” another musical comparison. As I commented to my friend who was at the show, I really don’t know what to make of their sound – I just know that I kind of liked it. That’s probably a good thing, he said. I think so too.
After the ridiculousness that was New Politics, I was a little uneasy for Atomic Tom. Not because I didn’t trust them to put on a good show, but because I was accustomed to seeing them follow bands that are quieter, rawer. Tonight I thought AT had their work cut out for them. And they didn’t disappoint. Shocker.
From the moment Luke White, the front man of AT, steps on stage, it’s a real show. The band opened with “Maybe I’m Wrong,” a slower tempo song that seems unfitting for such a high-energy band, but it eases the audience into the epic sound AT is consistently striving for. Like their songs, the AT set builds, beginning with the rumblings of “Let Let Go,” a punchy rock anthem you can see people pumping fists to at a sporting event.
Although AT’s set is loud, there are enough melodic hooks to whet the appetite of new listeners who are afraid of getting lost in a wall of sound. “You Always Get What You Want” and “I’m Coming After You” are defined by those sing along lines and moments that make an audience want to get involved. Eric Espiritu takes awesomely understated and perfectly timed guitar solos – loud, fast, aggressive, and never overstay their welcome.
Of course there are quieter moments in AT’s set that happen to be some of my favorites.White rolls out “Play That Dirty Girl” in deep, sexy tones that let you better hear just how awesome his vocals are. And then there’s the Tears For Fears cover they’ve been busting out lately of “Everybody Wants to Rule The World,” which, aside from being one of the best songs ever, is made uniquely better by AT.
Like most bands, Atomic Tom closed with a current single, “Take Me Out” – not including the encore on “This is How We Like to End,” another mid-tempo epic rock ballad which very much brought the set full circle. If I had my druthers, and I suppose I do have their ear a bit, they’d close with “The Moment.” The song is bold, catchy, and was born for the radio. And when they perform it you can tell that AT’s moment is now.
I really believe in Atomic Tom. I think they have the ability to go places with music. And yes, I still get those weird nerves like the mom with the nerdy camcorder at the show that hasn’t graduated from the garage yet because, well, she’s protective. But at the end of the day, like her, I’m incredibly proud – not just because I feel like I’ve been along for the ride, but because I know they’re really really good.
by Billie Edington