Last night I caught Snow Patrol at American University’s Bender Arena. It was a bit weird going there, as I’d been there 3 times before: twice in 1994 for Soundgarden (with Tad and Eleven opening – Eleven was later the band Chris Cornell used on his first solo CD) and Dave Matthews Band (with From Good Homes opening – frontman Todd Sheaffer went on to find more success with Railroad Earth) and once in 1998 for the Barenaked Ladies (with Cowboy Mouth opening). I figured the food selection inside hadn’t changed much over the years, so I stopped at the MickeyD’s across the street for a quick cheeseburger and chicken wrap before heading in (I was right about the selection).
First band Silversun Pickups had started by the time I got in, and they were pretty good. I hadn’t realized until I checked out their myspace page that I’d seen the video for “Lazy Eye” a couple times already. They were pretty good live, reminded me of early Smashing Pumpkins, especially going out a blaze of feedback.
OK Go was next. I’d seen them in 2002 at the 9:30 Club opening for The Vines, and they were ok (pun intended). At the time they had a minor hit with “Get Over It”, but I didn’t pay attention to them until they popped with some great videos. They really have become a better live band, too, probably on the back of their relentless touring. They weren’t the headliner and didn’t have a wall of lights, so they got creative and had the next best thing: a video screen with a video of a wall of lights on the first song. Effective, and they used videos well during their show. They never played their actual videos (though they did use one from the “Do What You Want” set during “Television, Television”) sticking to a mixture of new animation (including dancing treadmills during “Here It Goes Again”) and tiny video cameras of webcam quality on the four band members (to the best effect when frontman Damian (whose camera was attached to his mic) went stage diving. Funniest part was Damian talking about the surreal experience of hearing 8 year olds sing “Here It Goes Again” (from Kidz Bop) which he thought was a little strange, because he wasn’t sure 8 year olds could understand the feeling of regret after a drunken one night stand – or could they?
They were pretty well received, but the sold out crowd was there for Snow Patrol. They had a good sized set, a rack of lights above, the usual stage mounted swivel lights and a nice set of webbed LED lights surrounding them that formed intricate patterns. The crowd was into them from the start, and they soaked it up. Gary told an amusing story about being interviewed in the girl’s swim team locker room and seeing “AU swim team loves Snow Patrol” written on a white board and then feeling weird because all their swimsuits were hanging on their lockers. They also brought up a fan on stage to sing Martha Wainwright’s part in the duet “Set the Fire to the Third Bar”, mostly because she held up a sign asking for the privilege, but she was pretty good. I enjoyed hearing the big hits – “Chasing Cars” of course, but I think my favorite song was “Chocolate” from Final Straw.