My luck came close to running out last week as my best friend and I struggled with finding proper transportation and therefore nearly had to sell our tickets – two tickets I had spent $80 on so that my best friend had a great Christmas present instead of Swedish Fish and nail polish – to a show I, personally, had been looking forward to ever since it was announced: Arctic Monkeys at The Rave. Thankfully, everything fell into place and my Friday the 13th turned out to be pretty freakin’ awesome.
Arriving to The Rave at a little after 5, we waited in line for an hour and enjoyed the Moon Taxi pre-show, gazing up at the lit stage that held a man with a slight resemblance to Kurt Cobain…who I may have tweeted about…which the band may have seen. And favorited.
Twitter famous, ya’ll.
Once doors to the Eagles Ballroom had opened, the rush inside began. The line weaved through lobbies and stairwells and angry (bitter? jealous?) Rave employees until, finally, we were in. This was my first time in the Eagles Ballroom specifically, despite many past trips to The Rave itself. Needless to say, I was pretty blown away by the room. It was both extremely large and very beautiful. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a handy dandy photo for some perspective:
It’s pretty fisheye’d (excuse my lack of proper terminology and phrasing), but it’s something visual. From my
Google image search heart to yours.
After waiting for about three hours (one of the bands were late and threw off the whole set by an hour, but it was well worth the wait), we were finally treated to the first opening act: NONONO. Upon entering the venue, I had no idea who this band was, but they’re super catchy and worth checking out; the chorus of ‘Pumpin’ Blood’ may be somewhat recognizable due to a commercial for Sparkling Ice. I will say that I prefer this Swedish dance-pop live compared to the tracked versions of their work, but it’s decent nonetheless and you’ll enjoy it if you like unique vocals mixed in with lots of synth and whistles. Live, the vocals actually immediately reminded me of Swedish rock band The Sounds, who I enjoy immensely. NONONO lead singer Stina’s voice is deeper and more passionate during her live performances and the band brings along some good, contagious energy.
After a set that seems to be a collection of…well, all of their work since they only have one EP out, NONONO left the stage to the second opener: Foals. Hailing from the UK just like the Arctic Monkeys, Foals has apparently won some really awesome award for “Best Live Act” as of this year and were nominated for “Best Act In The World Today” as well. When the show’s announcer shared this with us, the smartass inside me initially thought “They’re either going to be incredible or they’re going to be disappointing thanks to the high expectations this radio personality/concert host just gave us.” Never again will I let myself have the doubts I did that night. WHAT. A. SHOW. They were insane. With a guitar intro nearly parallel to the likes of psychadelic rock bands of the past, Foals put on one of the most energetic and fantastic shows I’ve ever seen. While hits like ‘My Number’ come off as retro disco-pop on the tracks rather than intense indie-rock, I can assure you they are a blast to hear live. Complete with a crazy light show, crowd surfing by lead singer Andrew, and amazing guitar-solos, the show was absolutely paralyzing. I would present you with a selfie of my dropped jaw and un-interrupted stare that lasted the whole set, but I didn’t take one because I was busy experiencing the barely-explainable wonder that was happening in front of my very eyes.
That hour of great intensity passed, and at long last I was about to see Alex Turner (and Alex Turner’s hair, which is so distinct that it is often described as a separate member of the band) put on the moves and serenade me (recklessly? I’m sorry, I had to) as the red lights and constant smokiness gave off a magnificent silhouette of the band. Starting the night off sultry and slow, ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ echoed throughout the ballroom as the screams bounced off the curved ceiling. Following up with the ever-energetic ‘Brianstorm’ was the perfect choice, as the formerly mentioned slower show-starting hit suddenly melted into something fast-paced and wild. By wild, not only do I mean the brilliant vocal effects and guitar solos, but also the crowd, who had then chosen to send waves upon violent waves of somehow-synched pushes towards the front of the room, trapping everyone’s ankles and nearly causing us all to kiss the concrete on multiple occasions. Keeping the energy going with the slams of chords (a weird description yet the only accurate one I can come up with) during the scream-inducing ‘Dancing Shoes’, AM proved that they knew just how to pace the entire show perfectly. ‘Dancing Shoes’ was followed up by “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’, ‘Old Yellow Bricks’, ‘Crying Lightning’, ‘Snap Out Of It’, ‘Reckless Serenade’, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, ‘Arabella’, and ‘Pretty Visitors’ before Turner decided to let everyone know that he was indeed focused on the lovely ladies in the audience. Loudly repeating “How are the LADIES doin’ tonight, Milwaukee?!” before declaring that the next song was for us specifically (‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, naturally), the energy jumped yet again on the scale from sexy to party. The spirit of Young Taylor went absolutely insane, let me tell you. I heard that song when it first came out seven or so years ago, and it’s the reason I decided to check out the rest of their work a few months ago. As you can tell, I’m not exactly a “lifetime fan”, but simply a ‘fan of their beginning turned fan of everything they’ve ever done, ever’. As the main set ended with ‘Knee Socks’, ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, and ‘505’, the couples standing directly in front of me were, uh, mingling so hard that they were close to creating life. That’s what these jams do to people, you know? I mean, what are boundaries anyway? I sure don’t mind you brushing against me as you try to do everything except keep it in your pants. However, all was forgiven as I reminded myself I was 100 feet away from such incredible musicians who returned two minutes later for an encore; “I’ve only got time for ‘One For The Road’, Milwaukee!”, Alex yelled, going right into another fantastic hit off their latest album, AM. Immediately after, he goes “I’ve only got one question for you.” and ended the night with a powerful performance of “R U Mine?”, making me wish for the millionth time that night that I could gaze into his eyes and say “Why, yes, Alex Turner. I am yours. Yes. Play with my hair and sing me to sleep, would you?”
Ultimately, it was one of the best shows I’ve been to. Ever. Don’t let the live performances on internet-land fool you, because this show greatly surpassed any of the video representations I looked into beforehand. The band was spot on, the vocals were spot on, the visuals were…well…you know…they were sort of like this:
And like this:
A little bit like this:
And a lot like this: