Long live rock, I need it every night

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Live in Austin: The Jet Age

After a few failed attempts I finally got to see The Jet Age. Rock Club was twice scheduled to see them only to change our minds at the last minute. The first time it was in favor of The Rosebuds. Then we were supposed to see them play with Wussy at The Red & The Black but a scheduling conflict came up. After finally seeing them down here in Austin, I wish I had caught some shows while I lived in DC.

Back in 2003, I discovered the Hurricane Lamps, the precursor to The Jet Age. They had a number of catchy tunes but "Reckless" off their Sing Me A Song album was my favorite. It was always allotted a slot on my cheesy little MP3 player. That's high praise considering the piece of shit only held about 6 songs. The Jet Age has continued where the Hurricane Lamps left off - creating great power-punk. They've taken on new challenges too. Their latest album, What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? is a concept album about "the story of a husband and father who becomes so disillusioned with the state of America that he joins an underground movement and becomes a suicide bomber." Seriously. And the best part - it works. You have to give them credit for their daring.

As they started into their first song, one adjective came to mind - Power (must...resist...power bottom joke...). These guys play some seriously potent rock. They're a power trio in a time when it seems every new indie band has 10 members (this strikes me as an odd trend). After a few songs they played their new record from start to finish. Over the past few years I've seen roughly 200-250 bands and this was the first time I've seen a band do this. I tend to listen to whole albums rather than singles or a playlists so I thought it was a cool idea. Plus, it's a concept album (rock opera? nah...) so it made sense.

The Jet Age are a tight, well polished unit (umm, that sounds a little ghey) but they're also skilled individually. During the set each guy took his turn displaying his musical talents. Not exactly solos but close. I have to pay special recognition to Pete the drummer though. The guy is fucking unreal. He's now one of my favorite DC drummers along with Joe Easley of Statehood.

After playing the entirety of their new album the crowd convinced them to play one final song. They closed with the burner, "Please Come Home Now" off their Breathless album. It was a great closing to an impressive set.

Okay, so that's the good. What didn't work with their set?

First, they didn't draw as well as I had expect considering the positive press they received leading up to the show. It's tough to fault the band though. It was 4th of July weekend and most people headed for the beach. Also, Mohawk just started booking bands to play the inside stage after they shut down the outdoor stage. It's a great idea but word hasn't spread yet. In fact, I think The Jet Age were their first late night show. It's always a bitch to be the guinea pig. Another minor flaw was that Eric really had to work to get his vocals to match the force of the music (or maybe it was just the sound). Of course, considering the muscle of the band it'd take the pipes of Beth Ditto to keep up.

gratuitous Beth Ditto photo

Okay, let's wrap this fucker up. Here's what I like about The Jet Age (well, besides their music). And I hope the band doesn't take this the wrong way but here goes. The Jet Age is probably not going to be the next indie rock sensations. You won't see them being hailed by the kids with skinny jeans and sideways haircuts. They aren't the next Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, [Insert Buzz Band Name Here]. They've been around for a bit and gained valuable experience along the way. They're not unlike us here at Rock Club - mid-30s, steady careers, questionable hygiene, etc. I could be wrong but I don't get the feeling they're banking it all on being rock stars. They're out there because they have a passion for making great indie music (and unlike some buzz bands they can actually write good songs). You have to respect their passion. It's that DIY attitude that DC's best music was founded on. I hope more people take notice of The Jet Age. In my book they're DC's most underrated band.


Jumbo Slice said...

I forgot to mention something - how the fuck are these guys not on the Fort Reno schedule? You're telling me there wasn't room? That Dress Up is a better band? Please...

Steve said...

Not only do they have less members than most bands these days, but they also have ZERO beards. And god bless them for that.

Jimbromski said...


Jimbromski said...

never heard these guys but your description makes me think of the Thermals, is that accurate at all?

Jumbo Slice said...

There are some similarities to The Thermals. Both pack a punch. Thermals songs are shorter and based big hooks. They also can end up all sounding the same. The Jet Age songs vary more. Also the singing styles are different. The Thermals guy has a shouty delivery whereas Eric actually sings.

Anonymous said...

comparing Jet Age to the Thermals is a huge *HUGE* disservice to the Thermals.