When I arrived at the Backspace on Friday, March 30th to see The Menzingers, Cheap Girls, the Sidekicks, and Ninjas with Syringes, the Sidekicks were playing to a crowd of between 50 and 75 people. Nobody in the crowd looked extremely into it, which was unfortunate, because from seeing the Sidekicks prior I knew that the band fed off of the crowd’s energy, as bands do. They played around a dozen songs, including a number of selections off their new album “Awkward Breeds.” Through their set, I couldn’t help but feel like this band would’ve been more at home on a bill with a band such as Gaslight Anthem, but they were pretty good. After their set, they broke down and about 15 minutes later, Cheap Girls took the stage. The energy in their set kind of followed the energy of their music. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cheap Girls, and their new album “Giant Orange” is probably one of my favorites so far this year, but their powerpop sound left a lot to be desired in a live show. Nothing was particularly energetic, in either the band’s stage presence or the music they played. Their set was extraordinarily tight, though. Guitarist Adam Aymor was on point with bassist Ian Graham 100% of the time. It was a bit like listening to their album on a giant soundsystem, which was nice, though it lacked the raw element that makes live music so exciting, the only break in this was the last song they played, “I Should Never,” from their first album, which had a more energetic, punk sound. The Menzingers were the polar opposite of Cheap Girls’ set. Their set was full of energy, stage presence and crowd interaction which really added something to the show. They played a number of songs of their new album “On the Impossible Past,” as well as some old tracks. They generally glossed over anything from their earlier days, when they had quite a bit more of a straightforward pop-punk sound, but their set was fun nonetheless. For the most part, their set was a combination of crowd-surfers and guest singers. Overall this was a pretty good show, even though the bill seemed to be comprised of three bands who fit under the umbrella term punk, whose albums had been released on the same day, instead of a particularly conscious sound decision. The energy levels the bands brought ranged from very little (Cheap Girls) to a lot (The Menzingers).
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