Cut Off Your Hands and the So So Glos – Mercury Lounge – May 7, 2009May 8th, 2009
Some time before 11 p.m., the lead singer of the So So Glos looked out at the audience and said, “I don’t care. But I do.” It was in regard to the people in the crowd and whether they would be clapping for an encore. It was right before the band’s last song or right before the encore they entirely deserved, but never got. It was an evening of contradictions: Untamed energy onstage and flat efforts from a nearly sold-out audience.
For example, Nick Johnson, lead singer of headliner Cut Off Your Hands, collapsed to the ground in the first four measures of their set. He proceeded to flail about like a man possessed. The band, sounding like the Futureheads who grew up listening to Morrissey records, followed in time, with the bassist and guitarist shouting their vocals into their mikes. It was only until after the third song that Johnson looked back at the soundboard and said, “We’re going to need more guitar and more drums and more crowd.” The last part was so quiet it was almost missed. But it was exactly what he meant: We are going to need more crowd. The band then launched into “Turn Cold,” arguably their second-best song.
Cut Off Your Hands have a new guitarist and a bassist who looked delicate enough to break. These were not necessarily the personalities to convert a weeknight audience. But Johnson wouldn’t quit—proceeding to kill himself on the altar of energetic. It was not entirely in vain. During the best moment of the night, he and his mates thrashed through “Happy as Can Be,” and the audience moved in time. The song’s epic, furious conclusion was finally enough to change the tenor. Still, the band left without an encore. Their frantic post-punk was worthy—those in the crowd just couldn’t decide if they cared. Thankfully, Cut Off Your Hands cared enough for everyone in the room. —Geoff Nelson