Dr Manhattan (Vagrant Records) just released their self-titled debut album last night, although it doesn’t hit stores until this Tuesday, March 11th. I’ll throw a review together soon, but I’ve been eating this album up ever since hearing their Are You Bald? EP (iTunes link) that was released in December. Last night was their record release at Just For Fun Roller Rink in McHenry, Illinois with Flowers for Dorian and Truman & His Trophy.
Dr Manhattan heralds from Wauconda, about 20 minutes away from McHenry, so the Just For Fun is a perfect venue for them to kick off this new phase in their music career. Just For Fun has been hosting local shows since at least 2000, usually carrying with it around 30-40 people (this one had at least 150-200). Seeing how this was the most hyped show there since First Grade Crush came years ago, the atmosphere was electric. The show kicked off after the little ones left with their parents after a night of youthful roller skating (I’m serious, it’s a full on roller rink à la 1950s).
At the end of the show, I went up to Nick (drummer) and Matt (vocals/guitar) and promptly declared that they had just performed the best local show I had ever seen-topping The Felix Culpa, Duvall, and…dare I muse this…the Lawrence Arms (wait…nope, Lake Villa’s Lawrence Arms show topped this one). It says something, as northern Illinois holds massive musical talent (Alkaline Trio, Smoking Popes). The opener featured two people with their faces painted black and white; one playing trumpet marching towards the other drumming Skittles left and right off of the snare. It pinnacled with both standing on a home-made pair of stairs, announcing the band’s entrance amid raining candy. Before you could even breathe, the announcement was over and the band was cutting straight into Big Chomper, Big Chomper. The next hour or so, the hundred plus attendees saw the band unwavering, displaying more energy than France’s nuclear network. Important aspect? They never, never lost a beat, missed a note, or dropped the tempo even while leaping onto the stairs overlooking the audience. Only a few bands I’ve seen could ever pull that off, and none so young (perhaps 1997).
Faced with a time crunch named curfew, the band attempted to draw out all the sonic punches from their debut. Notably Baton Rouge possessed everyone with its hypnotic guitar/drum dance beat (it holds up on the album, as well, though is more energetic live). It handily beats Pete Wentz in songwriting pop punk hooks intertwined with a solid, consistent beat and capped with backup chorus. Tracey’s Buns became the night’s campfire highlight with its poignant lyrics, akin to awkward high school love from some guy who can’t write a song, but does anyway for a girlfriend’s birthday. “Hi there Tracey, I miss you more than Thursday. But I am with you now, oh thank God for your birthday.” The band is hitting up part of Warped Tour this year and, honestly, once this song spreads to all those teenagers, they’ll swoon because of something other than 90° heat and dehydration.