A Night of High FivesMarch 14th, 2011
Fang Island – The Bowery Ballroom – March 11, 2011
A critic far sharper than this one wrote that Fang Island’s self-titled debut LP sounded like “everyone high-fiving everyone.” Not coincidentally, bassist Mike Jacober arrived onstage for the band’s encore just before midnight on Friday at The Bowery Ballroom and proceeded to slap hands with as many people as he could reach. This was just deserts for the first few rows of an audience that jumped through most of the main set, sung backing vocals without prompting and (although this is extremely unscientific) went completely bananas for the band in front of them. This response wasn’t unsolicited as Fang Island had egged their fans into this frenzy, but, of course, it also wasn’t possible without both the band and the crowd high-fiving everyone.
Fang Island blends prog rock and post-rock with guitar breakdowns that have been dragged kicking and screaming from metal. On the night’s third song, “Welcome Wagon,” the band escalated the stakes, and since their aesthetic so successfully denies the classic pop structure of verses and choruses, their set whirred together over the 45 minutes they spent onstage. Playing material off their first record, Fang Island ran through a pumped-up version of the jerky “Life Coach” and threatened the venue’s door hinges coming out of the soaring bridge of “Davey Crockett,” concretely illustrating the band’s (and their fans’) go-for-broke approach.
The encore was a gracious melding of the album opener, “Dream of Dreams,” and the explosive sing-along single “Daisy.” This prompted the audience to channel Chris Farley’s version of Michael Sembello’s “Maniac,” leaving Fang Island to walk offstage with hugs and smiles. Any high fives were entirely not coincidental. —Geoff Nelson