New York rockers of the neo-New Wave variety The Bravery had little to prove when they took to the SOhO stage last Wednesday. With two chart-topping singles and a gaggle of good press behind them, the synth-heavy quintet drew in an impressively large crowd of eager scenesters, giddy college couples, and a smattering of middle-aged adults looking to get their groove on.
The L.A.-based band War Tapes opened the show with a solid 40-minute set of songs that harkened back to the Smiths and created the perfect setup for the night’s headlining act. The Tapes’ leading man, Neil Popkin, put on a convincing show, replicating Morrissey’s vocals to near perfection on songs like “Dreaming of You.” Still, his delivery and onstage theatrics never came close to those performed by frontman Sam Endicott later in the evening and, in hindsight, left something to be desired.
Following a lengthy setup lull, Endicott and his band mates graced the stage and greeted their fans with little rigmarole-a welcome sight considering the pretentiousness that critics and fans have agreed tainted past Bravery performances.
The show-opening “Fearless” got things off to a solid start, despite bassist Mike Hindert quietly bowing out of his duties midway through to throw back a beer. Missing instrumentation aside, the night belonged to Endicott, who posed and wailed like a professional in between anecdotes. With a good deal of cuts spanning the band’s two-album discography, the highlight still came late in the evening with the one-two punch of “Time Won’t Let Me Go” and “An Honest Mistake.” The radio staples created a ruckus on the dance floor and blended seamlessly into the upbeat heartbreak anthem, “Bad Sun.”
Perhaps what hurt The Bravery was its unwillingness to divide up their hits. By jam-packing the singles three-quarters of the way through the set, the jovial dance-party vibe of the evening was compacted down to a mere fraction of what it could have been, in turn making for what felt like a less satisfying night of electro-tinged pop than could-and should-have been had by all.