Review: Tokyo Police Club & Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin at The Firebird, Tuesday, February 8.

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Jason Stoff
Tokyo Police Club
Last night's bill of post-punkers Tokyo Police Club and folk-tinged indie outfit Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin might have looked odd on paper, but it made perfect sense in concert. Both groups boast strong melodic sensibilities and pen lyrics colored with a sentimental streak. These shared elements made for a strong night of sweet pop in a show that fell just short of greatness.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin got the show off to an inauspicious start as Phillip Dickey lengthened the pause in opener "Back In The Saddle" to 30 some seconds to retune his guitar. John Robert Cardwell didn't help matters by failing to properly project his lead vocals until halfway through the set. But once they ironed out their flaws, Yeltsin turned out a charming performance of pretty guitar rock. Cardwell and Jonathan James demonstrated great chemistry as a rhythm section as James' bass drum and Cardwell's bass played perfectly sync to produce a nice popping effect. Dickey, meanwhile, livened up the show by bopping around like an excitable third-grader and leading the near-sold out audience through several clap-alongs.

View a slideshow of Tokyo Police Club/Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin photos

He then brought this animated presence to the drums when he took over for James and gave his guitar to Cardwell midway through the set. (James in turn played bass.) The modified lineup traded some of the old model's tightness for slightly busier arrangements that added some pep to the group's attack. It also benefited from playing some of the group's best and most popular songs, including "Oregon Girl," "House Fire," and "Think I Wanna Die." This run produced a satisfying and energetic conclusion, punctuated by lead guitarist Will Knauer's leap into the drum set.

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Jason Stoff
Tokyo Police Club took the stage next and gave a competent reading of "Favorite Color," but something was amiss. Bassist/singer Dave Monks quickly confirmed it: He was sick as a dog. Monks' illness never went so far as to produce mistakes, but it mostly confined him to a lower register and sapped him of the energy needed to take a truly commanding stage presence. Fortunately, he was still spot-on with his bass work, and the rest of the quartet packed a punch with an exuberant performance. Guitarist Josh Hook was particularly good as he maneuvered deftly from loping arpeggios to rapid-fire washes of 16th and 32nd notes.

The band also had a lot of help from an enthusiastic section of 30 or so fans in the front who bounced and sang along to every tune. Oddly enough, the dull ballad "Hands Reversed" brought the crowd to a higher state of excitement that sustained Tokyo Police Club through the rest of their show. Feeding off this energy, TPC attacked highlights like the dancey "Bambi" and the jerky hooks of "Citizens of Tomorrow" with a renewed focus that led to a strong finish with the punked-out blitz that was "Your English Is Good." The group quickly rallied for a riveting encore of "Cheer it On" that demonstrated the young band's resiliency before drawing the night to a close. All in all, Tokyo Police Club performed admirably under difficult conditions and while the results weren't always ideal, they ultimately played a winning show.

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Cut me a Break
Cut me a Break

Hey, if SSLYBY didn't stop to tune their guitars, you would complain about their guitars being out of tune. Guitars fall out of tune, it happens. I don't expect performances to be perfect. If I did, I would just stay home and listen to a CD. If you don't allow yourself to be distracted by small glitches, there is more to write about like their vocal harmonies, counter melodies and the obvious joy the musicians exude when they are sharing their music. I guess you can describe it as looking like an excitable 3rd grader, but that sounds more like a put down rather than describing what makes an SSLYBY show special.

Annie Zaleski
Annie Zaleski

I really don't think the description of "looking like an excitable 3rd grader" was meant as a put-down at all. Putting it in context in the review, it's merely an observation meant to illustrate the scene for those who weren't there. I mean, the reviewer's overall impression of the show was positive. I don't think he's at all slagging on the band.

"Dickey, meanwhile, livened up the show by bopping around like an excitable third-grader and leading the near-sold out audience through several clap-alongs."

Another review I read described him as looking like a kid hopped up on candy/sugar. Again, not a put-down, but an observation. In other words -- they're pointing out what makes a SSLYBY show special.

Cut me a Break
Cut me a Break

When a review begins with negative remarks, it sets the tone for the piece and diminishes what follows. If I were a performer pushing 30, I wouldn't want to be described as a kid hopped up on candy/sugar, but we filter everything through our own life experiences, much like the way we are interpreting this review differently. I was at the show and for me the review missed the mark.

Tedmor1234
Tedmor1234

I was there too and I thought the review hit the mark...both put on a decent show, but not what I was hoping for...

JB
JB

The show SSLYBY put on was absolutely full of charm and harmony.

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