Ska sound rules at Pearl Street

By Ellie Rulon-Miller

Ellie Rulon-Miller/Collegian
Ellie Rulon-Miller/Collegian

Streetlight Manifesto stopped in at the Pearl Street ballroom on Friday as part of their Ship of Fools tour. While the headlining act impressed as usual, the show’s openers were consistently disappointing.

The first opening act was Lionize, a painfully boring reggae-rock act. There is a serious disconnect between this band’s recorded music and their live shows. Lionize’s act was surprisingly tight, but their energy was seriously lacking. They barely moved, as if doing so would affect the way their songs sound. There was no personal connection to be felt between band and audience, and it made their set almost painful to watch.

The following act was worse. Boston pop-punk band A Loss For Words sounds eerily like Four Year Strong. They were more annoying than anything else. A Loss For Words’ Myspace profile takes pains to talk about how they are the hardest working band in the industry; a statement which rings untrue unless they are working so hard to sound exactly like the bands they emulate.

The worst opening act by far was, ironically enough, Terrible Things. They lived up to their name with relative poise, considering the things being shouted at them from very large portions of the unmoving crowd. Like Lionize, Terrible Things gives off one vibe with their recorded music and a completely different one with their live performance. They sounded like a bad version of Taking Back Sunday when they took the stage and could barely hold anyone’s attention; throughout their set, dozens of full conversations could be very clearly heard over the music. The band failed to garner enough respect from concertgoers to even demand that they be listened to.

The men of Terrible Things are no longer the boys they were in their previous bands, though they still dress the same. The industry has aged these men, and they no longer look edgy as they dress in full emocore attire, but instead look extremely out of place, almost like ironic Halloween costumes of their former selves. They looked tired.

Streetlight Manifesto’s set turned out to be wholly different from each of these openers. People spent their time during Lionize, A Loss For Words and Terrible Things cementing their standing space at the very front of the venue in an attempt to have a spot for the headlining act.

The atmosphere at this particular Streetlight show was significantly different than it has been at shows in the past. It seems as though it has somehow become “cool” to call yourself a fan of the band. Most people wore new Streetlight Manifesto gear, and at least one quarter of the people there wore identical sweatshirts.

There was a wide variety of people contributing to this atmosphere, from small children to “biddies” – such as the two sitting on a railing, blocking the view of not only this reporter but a crowd of people behind them and waving a cell phone like a lighter in the air during songs which do not warrant such an act – to kids’ parents, there to see the band and not just act as a chaperone.

There were so many small children that singer and guitarist Tomas Kalnoky went over the intercom before their set began to ask that the audience tone down their usual rowdiness in order to make the experience a safer one for their younger comrades.

Despite the strange mix of people and the admittedly less-than-enjoyable atmosphere they created together, the band put on a stunning show, as usual. They played hard and fast, creating so much heat and sweat that the venue opted to open up the windows despite the freezing temperatures outside.

Streetlight didn’t play a single cover song, which was both refreshing and disappointing; hardcore fans like to hear original music, both old and new. However, Streetlight Manifesto plays an exceptional version of “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service, and it would have been a welcome addition to their set, as would their version of NOFX’s “Linoleum.” Among the highlights were “A Better Place, A Better Time,” “Here‘s To Life,” “The Big Sleep” and “Watch It Crash.”

The band’s attitude was noticeably different from previous performances. Kalnoky made little jokes throughout the night, and the band seemed to genuinely have more fun than usual.

In the end, though, the show was a typical one for Streetlight Manifesto. This is not meant to be a negative statement; there is nothing the band could do to change the outcome of their shows unless they suddenly begin to play terribly or change their style altogether, never playing older material ever again.

Ellie Rulon-Miller can be reached at [email protected]