The Whigs: Granada Theatre, Lawrence Kansas

At twenty-seven, I basically had the misfortune of missing the better half of the grunge movement. I mean sure, I can vaguely remember sitting in my 8th grade keyboarding class, reading an article in Rolling Stone surrounding Kurt Cobain‘s suicide. I can also recall seeing Kurt Loder acting like his death was a really big deal. But honestly, it meant very little to me. I was just too young to care.

I can’t really remember what I was listening to in the eighth grade, but I know that it wasn’t Nirvana, Soundgarden, or anything else hailing from Seattle. Sure, I guess Pearl Jam stuck around for a while, but by the time my musical tastes became honed enough to discover bands like Mudhoney and alternative bands like The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. Eddie Vedder and company were already well past their prime. Growing up, I always felt a touch of regret towards my inability to catch the grunge movement in a live venue. Yet, watching The Whigs play at the Granada Theater in Lawrence, Ks., I honestly assume that the movement wasn’t all that different from this.

In a set that mixes both old and new material, this Athens, Georgia garage band features a three-piece lineup, with a sound that could give most four member groups a run for their money. The full and flowing bass lines of their album Mission Control carry over flawlessly into their live show. The bands bassist, Tim Deaux highlights his half of the groups outstandingly tight rhythm section, racing through his riffs and busy structures, soloing at several points throughout the evening, including on the song “Hot Bed.” Set up behind, drummer Julian Dorio keeps time in an effective yet highly powerful manner. He uses the song “Already Young” to show off the reasons why Esquire magazine named him “Drummer of the Year” for 2007. His complicated and quick beats stand out on their own. This differs from most band in the fact that the drums are used as a riff rather than simply remaining a tool to keep time with. Hell, I’m pretty sure that I would happily pay the cost of admission to watch him play a solo set.

Claiming those parts Deaux and Dorio don’t already have covered, Parker Gispert claims the duties of playing the groups keyboard, as well as being guitarist and lead vocalist. His mixes of pop hooks and crunchy guitar riffs make for a sound that will appeal to fans of the toadies. Their first single “Right Hand On My Heart,” and “Technology” are a prime example of that, featuring a dramatic live energy and a garage rock style that reminds me greatly of the 1990s. Furthermore, Gispert’s stage banter is both entertaining and charming. Between asking about the local sport scene, and playing “name that Georgian city” with a semi-empty room, he wins over those who did attend the show. Rather than heckle him, the crowd cheers him along, screaming “USE IT!” in response to Gispert finding Deaux’s chapstick on his keyboard. Of course, he humors the crowd. The Whigs one, crowd zero.

Honestly, the crowd was the real winner here, catching a band in a nearly empty venue, putting forth a show with the energy of an arena rock show. It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to assume this band will fill venues in their future, selling them out as they go. The odds of this crowd catching this band in such an low key environment are slim to none. You however can catch them on the remainder of their current tour, or the following links:

The Whigs’ Homepage
The Whigs’ Myspace
ATO Records

Set List: Hot Carl Blues / Need You, Need You / Like a Vibration / Technology / Production City / I Never Want To Go Home / Violent Furs / Sleep Sunrise / Hot Bed / Right Hand on my Heart / Half the World Away

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