Julia Steele ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Bleachers did not pull the giant crowd that is often seen at the Paradise Rock Club where lines often wrap around the block as people wait for the venue to open. While they may not have generated the same pre-show hype that many bands manage, they were still able to absolutely bring it even harder than their more popular counterparts when showtime came.
The immediate energy that surged through the Paradise was undeniable as lead singer and guitarist Jack Antonoff and his band mates climbed onstage. They opened with “Wild Heart,” an anthem of sorts from their album Strange Desire. Audience members were instantly singing along, as the band played through the bulk of their only album with favorites like “Shadow,” “Like A River Runs,” and “Reckless Love.”
As the set went on, Antonoff continued to gradually lose layers of clothing in typical frontman tradition until he was in only a tank top and jeans. The whole band was sweating despite the surprisingly good ventilation in the Paradise Rock Club, putting every ounce of themselves into the performance. Bleachers is one of those groups that inspire a release in their audience–you are urged to let go of your inhibitions and live in the moment without it being corny said outright.
A highlight of their set was their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.” The band is known for their habitual covering of songs at their shows; their cover of “Dreams” by The Cranberries at Boston Calling blew the crowd away. “Go Your Own Way” was full of power and some really passionate chorus-belting. Then all that was left was the band’s introductions and solos in the middle of their last song “You’re Still A Mystery.”
The highest point of the night was still yet to come, as the band’s encore was incredible and heartfelt. Antonoff first came out on his own, and asked the audience about a former band of his called Steel Train. When he got an overwhelming response from the audience, he began playing an acoustic version of their song, “Bullet.” The song is an anthem of youth, getting even those unfamiliar with Steel Train moving on their feet. But this was just the beginning…
As the band’s live covers are always raw but impressive, Antonoff starting chatting with the members of the band and the audience about “Boston” songs. After several shouts from the audience of “Sweet Caroline” and “Dirty Water” and “Shipping Up to Boston,” Bleachers broke out into a cover of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ “The Impression That I Get.” The cover was far from polished and rehearsed, but it was the spirit behind it that sold the song. Bostonians and lovers of the Bosstones alike broke out into song at the chorus, and the band shared a wonderful, personal moment with the crowd. But Jack and the band didn’t stop there. About halfway through “The Impression That I Get” they broke into another Boston band’s tune–The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” performed in the same loose way that they’d taken on the Bosstones cover.
As the band braced for their closing number–obviously their biggest hit “I Wanna Get Better”–Antonoff turned to the keyboardist and murmured, “How’s that riff go again?” as he hammered through the opening notes of the Dropkick Murphy’s “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” At this point, the crowd went absolutely out of control. If there’s any song that gets people from this area to go crazy, it is this one. So the rest of the band picked up the song, and they played a rough cover of the Dropkick Murphy’s hit, which thrilled the audience. With these short covers, Bleachers had won over Boston’s heart (if they hadn’t already) and made a connection with the city that not many other artists attempt to make.
Finally, the opening keyboard riff of “I Wanna Get Better” topped it off. The crowd lost all inhibitions. Every person was screaming along with the lyrics, were being pushed and swayed by the collective movement of the crowd, and all the while had huge grins plastered across their faces. The song is a seemingly-happy yet quite dark anthem of flaw and betterment, and you could tell that the crowd connected with it as Antonoff pushed the barriers and sung the song as close to the crowd as he could. White confetti burst out everywhere as the song reached it’s climactic moment, the show ended on the highest of notes.
Impressed and satisified with how dimensional and energetic the band’s music sounds live, I’ll definitely be willing to see Bleachers once again when the band returns to Boston at the House of Blues in April.