Matt Pond | 02.15.13

015 MATTPOND_75When we spoke, he talked about his determination to remain defiant of cynicism and negativity, and the upbeat tempo of his new material illustrates that.

 

with The Lighthouse and the Whaler and Jukebox the Ghost
Firebird, St. Louis

010 LGHTWHALER

THE LIGHTHOUSE and the WHALER

It’s funny how much you can tell just from a sound check. I knew from just a few strains from the violin and beats of the drum that, despite having never heard of The Lighthouse and The Whaler, I was in for a treat. A xylophone or glockenspiel onstage is like my kryptonite, and it’s absolutely the way to my heart. The Cleveland-based quartet was joined on tour by violinist Lisa Kim, shown above with lead vocalist Michael LoPresti.

009 LGHTWHALER

THE LIGHTHOUSE and the WHALER

Mark Poro on mandolin and keyboards; Matthew LoPresti on drums

 008 LGHTWHALER

THE LIGHTHOUSE and the WHALER

Bassist and drummer Steve Diaz

006 LGHTWHALER

THE LIGHTHOUSE and the WHALER

Michael LoPresti is bundle of electric energy. In fact, watching this entire band playfully perform their poppy indie-rock was a delight. The title of their new LP, This Is an Adventure, summed up my feelings while watching quite nicely. Smart lyrics married with bouncy, happy-making beats, and joyous harmonies? Yes, please. Sign me up for some more!

016 MATTPOND 

MATT POND

I’ve been waiting over a decade to see Matt Pond perform live; it is so true what they say about good things being worth the wait. Pond won me over instantly, all those years ago, and he’s not let me down since. As I mentioned in the interview I did with him, he’s never put out anything I didn’t just absolutely eat up with a spoon. In his set, which was far too short for my liking, he and his wildly talented bandmates performed from the 2013 solo release, The Lives Inside the Lines Inside Your Hand. He also included plenty of older favorites like “Starting” from The Dark Leaves, as well as “KC” and “New Hampshire” from Emblems.

012 MATTPOND

MATT POND

Bassist Ranson Vorpahl

013 MATTPOND

MATT POND

Drummer Tre Hester

 

017 MATTPOND 

MATT POND

Keyboardist Tierney Tough


015 MATTPOND

MATT POND

Pond radiates a calm energy. When we spoke, he talked about his determination to remain defiant of cynicism and negativity, and the upbeat tempo of his new material illustrates that. Since he spent much of his last tour in a cast with a broken leg, he seemed positively unable to sit still during this one. It’s always nice to see a performer out with the rest of the crowd when the other bands are on stage, and Jukebox the Ghost had Pond dancing over by the bar during their set. One might not instantly hear the music of Matt Pond and Jukebox the Ghost and think, “Hey, those two should tour together.” That said, it works. All three bands together made for a night that had it all: sweet harmonies, thought-provoking lyrics, and dance-inspiring rhythms.


018 JUKEBOXGHOST

JUKEBOX the GHOST

In all honesty, I had no clue how many fans Jukebox the Ghost has made over the past couple of years. They are skillful, kinetic musicians who know how to ham it up, and I found them completely endearing. In particular, pianist and vocalist Ben Thornewill’s humor—in both his playing and banter with the crowd—kept a nearly two-hour set moving and vivid. That said, I still think TLATW and Matt Pond’s sets should have been allowed more time.


019 JUKEBOXGHOST

JUKEBOX the GHOST

Drummer Jesse Kristen’s hair caught my attention right away: It’s just two steps away from the glory that was Flock of Seagulls. Later in the show they explained that it was a new ’do courtesy of a 2:30 a.m. trucker rest stop purchase of hair dye while they were in Ohio the night before. “Things got weird. That’s what you get when you live in a band,” said Thornewill. Added guitarist/vocalist Tommy Siegel: “And now he looks like a punk rock Pepe Le Pew.”


022 JUKEBOXGHOST

JUKEBOX the GHOST

Guitarist/vocalist Tommy Siegel


021 JUKEBOXGHOST

JUKEBOX the GHOST

Siegel, Kristen, and Thornewill started the night with “Oh Emily” and powered through another 20-plus songs, including an impromptu cover of “Twist and Shout” and a planned and beautifully executed version of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” That was a true barometer for me as a huge Freddie Mercury fan, and they measured up nicely—though no one, and I do mean no one, can ever do Mercury justice. All in all, it was a massively fun night at Firebird, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all three of these bands.

Photographs by Caroline Philippone; commentary by Janet Rhoads.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply