25 May 2008

I'm glad you're not my ex-boyfriend (part two) : Tally Hall and The Republic Tigers at the Iron Horse, NoHo, 10/4/08 (Plus new records, etc.)

Iron Horse, NoHo, MA

Part one is over here.

I've explained this all before, but indulge me for a moment more: I saw Tally Hall in January '06 and wholly enjoyed their set, and then I put them on the back shelf in my mind and forgot about them until they recently announced a new tour and the rerelease of their debut record, Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum.

Like the Republic Tigers before them, Tally Hall played a laid back set: they were in a tiny space with less than 100 people there (I counted) and it was a late show. (Keep in mind that I'm also comparing this to when they opened to a sold-out crowd supporting OK Go at the much larger Paradise.) Regardless, two years has done them good: they're as solid and fun on-stage as ever.

Two years has done them good off-stage as well. I never had the original release of MMMM, but from what friends have said, it sounds fuller and better this time around. And goodness, what a good pop record it is. I think I had mentally marked Tally Hall as just one of those "quirky," "fun" bands, five cute boys who write songs about Mary Kate and Ashley ("Two Wuv"), tropical escapades ("Banana Man"), and selling themselves at auction ("The Bidding"). But this is one damn fine pop band. For every line like "I might rap like an English chap/Take you by the knickers and your bum I'll slap", you get something like "You fit just right right next to me" (from radio-ready "Greener") or "What if I told you I could show you something?/What if I told you I could make you live?" (from prettily acoustic "Be Born," my favourite of the lot). The sometimes-silly subject matter doesn't detract from the fact that these are catchy, cleverly-crafted songs.

Is it groundbreaking? Certainly not. But I don't think pop needs to be in order to be good. And with adorably good looks and fun tunes, it seems only a matter of time before Tally Hall becomes the new Next Big Thing, just watch.

But again, it's more complex than the surface lets on. Theme song "Welcome to Tally Hall" centers around playing in suburbia ("So kids pack us your mom's car,/Back up the Windstar/and arrive at the mega-mart...") and dismisses themselves as a mere "puppet show": "A quick distraction, a mechanic attraction/Got a penny in your pocket for the slot rock." In fact, they sum it up nicely in one line: "We think we're playing in a band." So what does that say about us, the listeners, those who are willing to pay a penny for to see this or any other marionette quintet? What is real about any band, anyway? Is it all just pipe dreams and rockstar fantasies?

You can sit there and ponder that out. Or you can just sing along. That's what I do instead.

Tally Hall - "Welcome to Tally Hall"
Tally Hall - "Be Born"

(Side note funny story: the first time I saw Tally Hall, mid-set I turned to my roomie and declared that Rob looked like my ex-boyfriend, Rob. When Tally Hall Rob introduced himself two minutes later, I was freaked out. I told Rob this story, and he was wholly apologetic about it, which was very cute. In an amusing twist of fate, I recently met up with the friend ex Rob left me for, and she agreed that they both look quite alike.)


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