Whigin’ out: The Whigs, The Features & Dead Trees @ The Tractor 11.14.09

Athens, Ga. trio The Whigs topped a three-headed rock monster of a bill at the Tractor last weekend. Here are some thoughts about the show taken from my notepad (In short, The Whigs are always good live. The Features are a band you need to check out if you haven’t already and Dead Trees have a promising sound) along with photos by  Dave Lichterman.

The Whigs :: by Dave Lichterman

Dead Trees: Initially they start off sounding like every other indie pop outfit out there. Not much happening to set them apart from rest of the pack. But then spontaneous pockets of rock begin to appear, salvaging  their 30-minute set from the depths of boredom. The band features a bass player who I swear was wearing a fake mustache (check the pics in the slideshow below) which made them fun to watch because as everyone knows, it’s tough to take your eyes off a solid ‘stache. They seemed to be onto something with their mixing of catchy indie pop and spontaneous, unexpected moments of rock.

The Features: Apparently this Tennessee band has been around for a while and have gathered quite a buzz that I didn’t know about. How big is this buzz? Well, we’re not talking Vampire Weekend or Animal Collective or anything like that, but after seeing them live I did go seek out their records. They play the type of music suited for a gypsy hoedown. It’s a great modernization on Southern rock as these boys sounded like they spiked their own moonshine, in a good way. From their maraca-wielding, slow-motion windmilling bassist to their hyperactive, sweat-stained rock ‘n’ roll frontman, The Features prove that Southern rock ain’t dead yet and for every Kings of Leon (The Features are actually signed to KOL’s imprint label) bands like The Mother Hips and The Features are out there waiting for their big breaks.

The Whigs: They aren’t the biggest band to come out of Athens (that would be R.E.M.) but they sure are one of the most rocking Georgia groups out there. The Whigs are big enough to pack the Tractor (singer Parker Gispert mentioned he didn’t expect to see so many people in the crowd) but small enough to tote their own gear and to walk through the bar and order a beer unnoticed. They came out to the stage firing on all cylinders and one of those cylinders was a strobe light which got heavy use throughout the 75-minute set. Gispert ran all over the small stage, hopping on one leg while soloing and even jumping into the crowd at one point (I actually thought he was going to accidentally kick me during a solo). The band’s been touring behind Mission Control for a couple of years now so they threw a couple of new songs in the mix which were actually some of the highlights of the set. I expect their upcoming album, tentatively titled Into The Dark, to rock very, very hard.

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