Pela at the Tractor Tavern
May 28, 2008
By August Hanson
My first time out to see Pela in Seattle, they didn’t make it. The lead singer fell off the stage during a performance in Chicago and sliced a tendon in his hand.
The second time out I almost didn’t make it, but thanks to the kindness of the girl working the door at The Tractor, I was able to get in despite a packed house.
Live, this Brooklyn band is impressive in many respects. They enjoy the support of an exceptional rhythm section – a solid bass player and a drummer who plays with mechanical arms and a human heart. This easily explains their ability to achieve studio quality dynamics live, and the absence of ringing in my ears after the show. The Tractor’s trusty soundman gets equal part credit for this.
Front man Billy McCarthy ruthlessly dispenses his super-cool charm on the audience, literally making the audience go crazy with a quick glance and smile. He is flanked by band members who complement each other while adding something meaningful to the band’s gritty, honest sound. This cohesiveness powers the band and delights the audience.
Pela has a unique sound in today’s Indie/Alt-rock landscape. If you wanted to get a snap shot of Pela’s material, you would listen to “Tenement Teeth.” This song captures many of the resounding similarities, such as the drum roll-style rhythms, the melodies that resemble those of Bono (good Bono though), or the safe chord progressions lacking in creative ambition. Unfortunately, though they are unique when compared to most of their peers, their own set lacks in variety. As a result, an hour was more than enough.
Pela has realized their own potential in performance, and their songs are instantly recognizable. It is difficult to say whether or not they will mature beyond this sound – creative potential is hard to gauge. Here’s hoping they manage to diversify their sound and avoid the “brief cult status” stature that so many good bands settle for. – (6/10)
Pela return to Seattle August 22 for KEXP ’s “Concerts at the Mural” on the Seattle Center grounds.
Quotes: 4 Things Pela Wants Seattle to Know
- “Every time we play in your fine city, we don’t want to leave.”
- “This is probably our last show for a while, so lets have a party (like always).”
- “We always go for it in Seattle…even though the next day in the van it feels like we got beaten up and spent the night in jail.”
- “Our new record is coming out amazing and we have some surprises for you.”