Tommy & the High Pilots brought their Christmas show to Velvet Jones this past Thursday night before a packed, 18-and-older audience. And though they began their set with a short Christmas film, featured festive decorations, and played a hearty helping of classic seasonal songs, their crowd seemed to disengage quickly and dissipate quite early on in the performance. While the waning crowd could have been caused by a number of things, Tommy & the High Pilots remained in high spirits and forged ahead with a very positive set chockfull of upbeat pop-rock.
It might have been for lack of a proper introduction, the fact that the band hit the stage so late on a school night, or simply because their new songs were just okay, but the most likely reason Tommy’s audience lacked energy was their opening act. The Sweater Band, a Santa Barbara-based Weezer tribute effort, were simply fantastic and captured everything glorious about the godfathers of geek rock. From their illuminated flying “W” down to their striped skater T-shirts (think 1994’s The Blue Album), these four kids provided the full package-and had the entire club eating out of their hands because of it. Throughout the set, those in attendance sang along to the hits from Weezer’s 14-year-long career. They opened with the first song off the band’s debut record, “My Name Is Jonas,” and throughout their entire 12-song set, hardly deviated from the original tracks in any way, save for occasional changes in reverb that evoked thoughts of lo-fi kings Dinosaur Jr.
Meanwhile, the staff at Velvet Jones did a good job to keep their 21-plus clientele separate from underage concertgoers, dividing the floor in front of the stage horizontally and keeping the kiddies corralled upstairs and away from the bar. Wristbands were strictly enforced, and the whole thing seemed to go off without a hitch.
Aside from being talented tribute artists, another reason for the Sweater Band’s undeniable success was surely the younger age demographic present. Only a few of the songs the band covered were from Weezer’s pre-2000 career and they did a great job choosing hits to engage everyone in attendance, and ensure fun for all.