Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks with Bear Hands @ Neumos 11/15

review by Jonathan Hamilton
photos by Dave Lichterman

Last week’s We Were Promised Jetpacks concert was a strange mix of loud sonic landscapes blasting through the room at Neumos routinely followed by masses of loud chatter that would drown out the quieter parts of the performance, much to the band’s chagrin. The band took the stage along with two extra guitarists, Val Loper and Ted Feldman from opening band Bear Hands. With four guitarists the band absolutely blasted through “Circles and Squares” from the band’s latest record, In the Pit of the Stomach. The crowd erupted when the opening chords for “Quiet Little Voices” from their debut LP came next and at this point the floor at Neumos was literally bouncing. They followed with “Ships With Holes Will Sink” also from their debut.

After the first three songs, Val and Ted left the stage and it was just down to the four Scots that compose We Were Promised Jetpacks, who then started to delve into their new record with “Picture of Health” followed by album closer, “Through the Dirt and the Gravel.” Apparently, these newer songs were just too much for a lot of the crowd to handle. Jetpacks have a real dynamic sound, especially live. Adam Thompson is the only vocalist on almost every song, and he will back away from the mic during quieter moments to make less of his vocals heard. Thompson is one of the bigger stronger looking front men in indie rock and he makes the guitar he is playing look tiny. During his heavier guitar playing he looks like he is going to snap his Fender Telecaster in two at any moment.

By the time Jetpacks brought Val and Ted from Bear Hands back out to help with album standout “Pear Tree” they had been playing for close to an hour. At about the 90 second mark, the song came to an almost complete standstill. Fortunately, I was near the front of the stage at this point, so I was able to hear the hushed vocals perfectly despite the rampant talking from the crowd around me. The band then immediately went into 2009’s “Thunder and Lightning,” which turned into the big exuberant sing-a-long of the night. Then they left the stage and never came back. In total they played for almost an hour and twenty minutes. We Were Promised Jetpacks is an amazing live band and if you have the chance to see them you should jump at the opportunity. Even with a distracted and disrespectful audience, We Were Promised Jetpacks put on one of the best lives shows that I have seen this year.

Here is WWPJ’s setlist. The asterisks are songs where they were accompanied by Val Loper and Ted Feldman of Bear Hands:

1) Circles and Squares*
2) Quiet Little Voices*
3) Ships with Holes Will Sink*
4) Picture of Health
5) Through the Dirt and the Gravel
6) Keeping Warm
7) Medicine
8) Hard to Imagine
9) Roll Up Your sleeves
10) Boy in the Backseat
11) This Is My house, This Is My home
12) Pear Tree*
13) Thunder and Lightning

We Were Promised Jetpacks:

Bear Hands:

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  1. wok nwoll
    Posted November 24, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I’m surprised that there’s so much chatter during the headlining set. I thought that was a NYC thing… biggest pet peeve going to show

  2. JonnyH
    Posted November 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    @wok nwoll
    It seemed that the crowd talked through almost all of the songs from the new record. They paid attention for the songs they knew, but most appeared to have not done enough homework on the new album.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Emily C.
    Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry I missed this show… I always seem to miss those scottish bands. I love their new album though… It sounds like it was lovely!!

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