Hot Hot Heat / Charlotte, NC / 07-19-2005

Tuesday night brought three of Warner Brothers Records’ upcoming artists to Amos’ Southend in Charlotte.  Three bands with three distinctive sounds.  The bands on this bill just didn’t fit together.  The Coldplay meets REM sound of openers World Leader Pretend was musically exciting.  When the band let loose and just jammed it was incredible.  However, the audience wasn’t too into the band, and it seemed like the band was just phoning it in.  In fact, the only time the band seemed interested was when they were allowed to let loose.  When singer Keith Ferguson would try to quiet the crowd for a quiet part of the song, the audience basically ignored him and at times the crowd chatter could be heard over the band.  This isn’t to say that the band sounded bad.  They actually sounded better than on their debut album Punches.

Eisley was next up, and unlike with World Leader Pretend, the audience was into them.  A sea of cell phone lights and camera flashes dominated this short performance.  The bands harmonies were beautiful and they sounded like a more rocking version of Liz Phair.  Unfortunately, they suffered from the same lack of energy that plagued their openers.  The only band member that seemed into the show was guitarist Chauntelle DuPree.  She rocked back and forth and sang along to every song played.  Guitarist/vocalist Sherri DuPree sounded really timid when addressing the crowd in between songs.  It’s unfortunate because it seemed that at least half of the large crowd was there to hear this band of sisters.

Hot Hot Heat on the other hand was incredible from beginning to end.  Not only was their playing tight, but they had an abundance of energy that fed the crowd.  They leapt around the stage with abandon and got into the face of the crowd.  Opening with the Beck sounding “Island of the Honest Man,” the band thoroughly rocked the crowd.  Singer Steve Bays was all over the place when not playing his keyboard.  He worked the stage and commanded everyone’s attention.  While the band played tracks from all over their career, it was the material from their latest album Elevator that really stood out.  Luckily, they hit 10 of the 12 songs from this album.  They closed out their set with the single “Goodnight Goodnight.”  After the chants of “Hot Hot Heat,” the band came back out and rocked through “Jingle Jangle,” “Elevator,” and “Running Out of Time.”

Overall it was a solid night for Warner Brothers in Charlotte.  Despite the lackluster performance of the openers, each band played well and showcased their style nicely.  World Leader Pretend rocked out sounding like a Neil Diamond fronted Coldplay, while Eisley proved that their indie pop songwriting chops are second to none.  But it was Hot Hot Heat that owned the small packed venue.