On Friday Noise Pop presented a matinee show with Ringside, Von Iva and Robbers on High Street at Cafe Du Nord. It's quite strange to head to a rock show at a time of day that's more appropriate for happy hour, but having the evening wrap up by 9pm was a bit of a treat. It leaves you feeling like you have extra time on your hands, Daylight Savings Time-style.
We missed Ringside's set but were able to catch local favorites Von Iva warming up the crowd with R&B rock vocals, electro-keyboards and disco drums-n-bass. Singer Jillian sparked up like a firecracker in her red-hot minidress while her band rocked steady with matching metallic lightning bolts on their outfits. Clearly these ladies were not intimidated by a 6pm set time.
All we'd previously heard of headliners Robbers on High Street was a few songs streamed off the Internerd, which we listened to immediately after reading a review comparing them to Spoon. Unfortunately these recordings, played hastily over laptop computer speakers, left us grumbling damning phrases like "Spoon rip-off!" and "Hey singer guy, you're not Britt Daniel!" Compare Robbers On High Street to Spoon for yourself.
What we saw and heard Friday night cleared up the negativity of our first impression. Singer Ben Trokan doesn't sound as much like Britt Daniel live as he does on record, and the four man band came across less as copycats and more like earnest guys who love music. Function won out over form during their live set. 75% of the band wore their eyeglasses on stage, guitars and basses were worn sensibly at waist level, nary a tattoo or piercing was visible, their clothing seemed clean and unwrinkled, and Trokan sat comfortably behind his keyboards rather than risking back injury by standing. Cafe Du Nord's stage is only raised to the knee level of the audience, so this meant that anyone standing more than 10 feet away couldn't see the singer for half the set. But there was no stage spectacle to be missed -- it was all business up there.
The Spoon accusations will remain, but Robbers on High Street's live show gives us hope that in the future they'll be able to shake those comparisons and find their own sound. The members of Spoon are apparently not bothered by the similarities, so we shan't be either.
Photo of Robbers on High Street from their website.