White Rabbits, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Blue Million Miles, Pop Wreck Saturday, May 31, 2008 Bluebird Theater Better than: A Jefferson Airplane cover band.
When I stepped up to the Bluebird I was a little confused – there wasn’t anybody outside, there was music coming from the stage and the door guys seemed a little too jolly for the beginning of their shift. The show started at 9:00, it was 9:30. I had somehow managed to miss the first band and walk into Blue Million Miles’ set half-way finished. What planet was I on? These things aren’t supposed to be on time.
Anyway, as I started traveling down (further into the rabbit hole… get it? nudge nudge) I heard – or I thought I heard Blue Million Miles chanting out “Someday I…” At this point I traveled back in time, and either my ears were being blessed with Jawbox or Blue Million Miles had somehow created a portal into the mid-’90s. I stayed there until the set ended and was transported back to 2008, where I sat blankly waiting for Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson.
I had hopes for MBAR. He had recorded with Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and had a few noteworthy guests on his EP. Quite unfortunately, Mr. MBAR seemed to have a wicked case of Ira Glass-syndrome – also known as a sore throat – which is characterized by the sounds that a higher pitched voice makes when a handful of pebbles is swallowed. MBAR’s music concentrates on Beach Boys style harmonies and multi-vocal work, so it’s easy to see how a scratched throat could destroy what may have been a really solid set. I felt like I was sitting through a elementary school recital right after a wave of the kissing disease had hit.
When White Rabbits made their way to the stage, I noticed something rather odd: Singer/guitar player Greg Roberts was texting. Yeah. Texting. On stage. I was definitely in 2008 – at least for now. Oh, right, and there were two drum sets.
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Somewhere around the first song another time-portal was opened, and I was dressed in polyester and waving a flag, while Brian Wilson appeared to be handing out high-fives. White Rabbits were playing a dimly filled room while a crowd of thirty-somethings swayed back and forth – a few people whistled at odd moments and many clapped during quite moments, unable to control that nerve in the brain that makes you clap when a song ends – even though the song was certainly not over.
White Rabbits’ set was strong, and seemed to mimic the look and feel of what happens to little indie bands that somehow end up playing Letterman and touring the country to crowds that may be a little too big for the band's britches. They worked well together, played a great set of songs and remained cool and collected through a slew of chants and three-part vocal harmonies. I never completely understood why they needed two drummers (are there two-part drum harmonies? Can drums harmonize?) Their set didn’t venture too far away from their record, Fort Nightly – which was a little disheartening because, for whatever reason, I had expected some sort of Yes style freakout jam session. The band’s single, “The Plot” seemed to move the crowd more than I’d expected – as I’d always thought it was one of the more derivative and boring songs on the album – but, of course, I’d forgotten that the perfect 120 tempo song features both “whoooaaaaa” parts as well as a driving drum beat that sounds like a train on its way to crushing a helpless fair maiden who's tied up.
White Rabbits seem to have accepted their new role as driving rock band – and although they’ve shared the stage with the ludicrously boring live Peter Bjorn and John, they don’t seem to have taken any misinformed cues from them. I, however, was stuck venturing through the ’70s and hanging out with a young, less creepy Brian Wilson. I’m still entirely unsure as to how I ended up safely at home in the year 2008. -- Thorin Klosowski
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I haven’t been to the Bluebird since Black Heart Procession in about 2005 and had forgotten how weird show’s are there. Random Detail: I find it strange that people would wear flip-flops to a show at the Bluebird. By the Way: Both Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson and Blue Million Miles are releasing full length album’s this summer.