Concert Review: The Temper Trap at the House of Blues in Boston, MA
If you were to see The Temper Trap fellows roaming around the city, you’d think they were a pretty ragtag posse. A four-man outfit from Melbourne, Australia, guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto came clean-shaven clad in open skinny-vest and Toby Dundas sported a stubbled mug and simple tee, but the real characters were bassist Jonathon Aherne and lead singer Dougy Mandagi. As Jonathon donned a polka-dotted silk shirt and looked like your hair-swishing hippie grade school music teacher, in contrast Mandagi in a cowell-neck sweater sounded like a combination of Aaron Neville, Prince, and Thom Yorke while personifying a Tibetan Monk holding a Gibson SG. No matter! Joined by touring instrumentalist Joseph Greer, last Wednesday these boys rocked the House of Blues.
If you don’t think you know the band, try playing “Sweet Disposition”. Within the first 15 seconds you should recognize the break-out hit from their debut album Conditions released last year. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or you’re not a media consumer (in either of those cases, you wouldn’t be reading this review), it’s impossible for you to not have stumbled upon at least clips of The Temper Trap songs, which have saturated television and independent college radio airwaves in the last several months, present in movies, trailers, ads, and television series.
The show’s set-up of simple curtains and a few basic lights may have been minimalistic, but The Temper Trap’s music was not. The show opened with an atmospheric, thundering sound before the band even approached the stage, and upon marching out, they woke us all up with a percussion-heavy meditation – no words other than “Aaaaahhhh,” but some lovely harmonies were present in this call to arms.
Perhaps the best part of seeing a band in its early stages of success is that when they play a show and have only produced one album, you get to hear virtually every song on the album. For the Temper Trap show, they covered every song from their freshman record, and in the encore introduced a song none of us had heard before. Clear crowd favorites included some of their more popular songs like “Sweet Disposition” and “Down River,” though songs that got the most audience-handclap participation were “Love Lost” and “Drum Song.” Throughout the show Mandagi’s expansive hand-gestures, ethereal falsetto, and dynamic demeanor captivated the audience, but the coolest, showiest trick was exposed just before the encore at the end of “Drum Song” – Mandagi poured water on the floor tom in center stage, and as he beat it Samurai-style, splashing droplets back-lit by bright royal-blue lights glistened and shimmered, literally illuminating the rhythm onstage.
To me, the only disappointment of the show had nothing to do with the band, but instead had to do with the rather dull, non-descript audience. The crowd skewed young, but lacked many of the personalities often found at Indie Rock shows, save for a handful of hipsters and a few mammoth foreign club-kids who apparently had an aversion to deodorant. I didn’t think much of it, though, until pre-encore. When the band walked off-stage, I was taken aback by the crowd’s subdued reaction. It wasn’t that they didn’t enjoy the show: they stood around waiting for the band to come out, but save for a few scattered “Woo”s, they were bizarrely silent. I go to a lot of shows, and I’ve never seen such an entitled crowd – they expected an encore but didn’t want to work for it! I may or may not have started a successful slow-clap to get the band back on stage, but this girl isn’t one to slow-clap and tell.
Anyhow! The tranquil mass came back to life when Temper Trap ascended the stage once more. At the end of the Encore when Mandagi lunged into the crowd, they dutifully hoisted him and cheered with the praise the band deserved. Temper Trap put on an incredible show, and hopefully the next time they come to town they’ll be embraced by an audience that has a better sense of concert etiquette. Central to this premise: a) when someone does a good job, you applaud, and this includes once they’ve left the stage, and b) nobody likes the smelly kid – put on some antiperspirant.
1) Intro (percussion)
5) Down River
6) Love Lost
7) Soldier On
8) Sweet Disposition
10) Drum Song
11) ***new song (title unknown)
12) Science of Fear