The bands impressed, the venue depressed.
It was a Monday night. Mondays are not the most rock star nights to go out, but if there is a show that is worth going to, I typically will throw caution to the wind and stay up a little after my bed time and struggle through work the next day if it is something I don't think I will be able to see again.
When I found out Trapt was coming to town on July 27, the first thing I asked was, "Trapt is still a thing?" Yes, they are still a thing, and they are putting out a new album. After a little research, I found that Trapt is not only putting out a new album now, but they have been putting out music and touring fairly regularly for the last fourteen years. After consoling myself for being so old, I pulled some strings and got myself a free ticket with the hopes of getting an interview with the mysterious band.
I didn't really give much thought to the venue. Pearl St. has been around for awhile, so I assumed it had all the most basic venue amenities. I do everything I can not to give Eric Suhr any more of my money than I have to, so free ticket in hand, I went to see what all the hubbub about Trapt was all about.
First, before anything, there is no air conditioning in Pearl St. You would think that a venue that is owned by the all powerful Iron Horse Entertainment Group (IHEG) would at least be able to pop some window ACs in during the hottest part of summer. The single fan in the window was a great symbol of just how little the venue is willing to do to make shows there decent.
The bands definitely noticed the heat. I expect my rock stars to turn up the heat and get sweaty, but in a room half full (generous estimation), the single fan in the window was fighting an uphill battle.
Guns Out at Sundown from Baltimore, MD stirred things up nicely. It was the chunky, hardcore screaming that always gets the alt rock crowd pumped. There was even a little moshing that security either ignored or didn't notice, but the heat was building. By the time Shaman's Harvest came on, it was almost unbearable.
The heat didn't stop Shaman's Harvest though. These guys were spot on. Between their cover of "Dirty Diana" (yes, as originally performed by Michael Jackson) and their originals "Dragonfly," "Dangerous," and "Turn it Up," they showed off their musical skills and definitely won me over. It is Southern rock hardcore with some deep blues thrown in for good measure. They are touring heavily all across the country and are hoping to have an album out by next spring.
After the interview with Shaman's Harvest, I went back inside to catch Trapt's set. By now, the heat inside was beyond repressive. I would have ordered a drink, but the bar was cash only. I asked the bartender what year it is. He didn't get it.
Trapt came out strong. To my surprise, there were a lot of people who came out just to see Trapt, so the half full room had filled up a little more. People were very excited. As it turns out, Trapt was a little confused as to where they actually were. No one had the heart to tell them right away that they were in Northampton and not Springfield. Their energy and stage presence was fantastic. They had the style and grace of a rock band that has been playing for fifteen years.
Unfortunately, it was the venue that messed things up. The lead singer's mic wasn't on for the first part of the first song. When Chris brought out his guitar, the sound guy couldn't get it to come on. It seemed like every song ended with the high pitch squeal of feedback, and not the good kind. The lead guitarist seemed to know what was going on and was trying to communicate it to the sound booth, but there was no one there.
Despite the setbacks, Trapt did put on a great show. Chris, the lead singer, kept the crowd engaged. When his guitar wasn't working after a few moments, he directed the band to go right into another song rather than letting the whole ship go down. That's a pro performer right there. Chris has had some controversy lately, but if it bothered him at all, it didn't come out anywhere except in the anger ridden lyrics. The late 90's angst is alive and well, and the Trapt fans responded to it.
They saved the best for last, playing their big hit "Headstrong" and "Bring It," sending everyone home with fond memories of the early 2000's.
It was a definite win for the bands, but I am having a really hard time understanding why people would buy tickets to a show at Pearl St. I would personally like to apologize to all the bands that came here from out of town to play at what is pretty much the worst place to see a show in the area. Hopefully, next time they come back, there will be some kind of temperature adjusting technology installed.
Here are the interviews with Shaman's Harvest and Chris of Trapt.
Photo: "Trapt performing at the Jingle Bell Jam Concert in Abilene Texas on December 4, 2007" by Bill Barton via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY 2.0.