Maybe we were a little late as we entered the Ace of Spades, but as we crossed the threshold, the bass drum took hold of our heartbeats and rewrote our pulses. FFG, a local opening act number one was already on stage, but their brand of skater boy pop punk pulled us into the increasingly dense crowd with ecstatic angst. The band, back from a five-year hiatus, was celebrating their thirteen-year anniversary and the release of their new album Edge of the World. Their catchy energetic music made us feel about teenaged and promised to, as the guitarist said “Fuck your ear-pussies!” But soon their set was done and the roadies were handing down FFG’s candy-stripped drum set off the stage.
The second opening act was a bit of a surprise, a two person band, The Wind + The Wave who hailed from Austin, Texas and were touring with the Plain White T’s. They played a lively style of Southern indie pop country crossover that had us clapping our hands and swaying to the harmony of their guitars, the blend of her brassy, pretty voice and his backing vocals, and laughing at their back and forth banter. Not yet on iTunes, not counting the track they did with one of the singers of Plain White T’s, Tim Lopez [called ‘I Love You’], they have an album coming out at a soon yet unspecified date. To the approval of the crowd, they gave out a promotional CD for free which they signed after their show.
We weren’t waiting long before some psychic in the front row started up the scream of greeting moments before the Plain White T’s come bounding on stage lighting up the room with their sweet, silly and extremely contagious vitality. A band that has been together since 1997, they are known for songs like 1,2,3,4, Rhythm of Love, and of course, Grammy-nominated platinum hit, Hey There Delilah, all of which they played. The last was often shouted out as a request until finally the main singer Tom Higgerson, who bounced around the stage like a small child and had quite a dialogue going on with the audience, replied, “Did you really think we aren’t going to play that song?” The Chicago-based band played a mix of songs from their hits to all the songs their new EP, Should’ve Gone To Bed, as well as trying out some new material for a new album that is yet unnamed and without a release date. They even changed the set list so Higgenson backed up by bassist Mike Retondo [who has a surprisingly sweet voice], could play A Lonely September, an old song from 2002 for a guy named Tick who was inspired to write songs after listening to it.
Finally as the show drew to a close, Higgenson came out holding his acoustic guitar with the custom fret board that proclaimed the band’s name. “Okay,” he said, “You guys are going to sing every word of this damn song with me right?” We screamed our agreement and he began to play the familiar tune. In the middle he stopped and asked if there was a Mike and Katie in the crowd. A couple waved from the drinking seats against the dark walls. “Katie,” Higgenson said, “I think Mike has something to say.” And Mike dropped down on one knee. The room crowed approval as she kissed him and the song started up again. Then the band came back on the stage, played Take Me Away as their closing song and the night ended.
Photos by Martha Mack.