After seven years of pretension-free indie rock, Plants and Animals have grown comfortable in their classic-rock influenced sound and amassed a small but dedicated following.
Unfortunately, their set at the Red Palace on April 6 was a lot like the majority of the crowd: buttoned up and wearing dad jeans.
There were no glaring problems with the set — the band was on point throughout the night — the sound was just a little too forgettable in the crowded non-hipster side of indie rock. The band’s consistently upbeat Kings of Leon-meets-Weezer sound was well-executed, but unfortunately feels repetitive and formulaic.
When the band broke from this formula and kicked a song into a loud, messy double-time at the end of several songs, it was the brightest points of the concert.
But just as the band reached Who levels of destructive, noisy madness, they slowed it down again and snuffed out the spark of brilliance that was there.
Most of these moments of cutting loose came toward the end of songs as a saving grace for what was otherwise the closest that indie rock can get to dad rock.
However, the band was able to keep the energy of these moments up for one song, their 2010 single “The Mama Papa,” during which the band was visibly more energetic, moving around more on stage and creating a heavier, more ambitious sound. This song offered a glimpse into the largely untapped potential of Plants and Animals, with Wings-like guitar riffs and Tom Petty vocals combining to create a song that sounds like a southern-rock influenced LA punk song.
Had they been able to keep up the energy of this song for the entire concert, it would have been a great show. Instead it was a mostly forgettable show with a few moments of greatness.
The most forgettable moments of the show were the slower songs, which is good because they weren’t particularly good either.
Lead singer Nicolas Basque, though great at belting out a classic-rock chorus, does not have the crooning ability to buoy the several slowed-down acoustic songs that the band played.
If anything, these songs, far from being moving or folksy, just made the higher energy moments seem better. Guitar player Warren Spicer offered some redemption for these songs with well-placed reedy and minimalist guitar riffs that carried the rest of the band.
To their mostly older fans, Plants and Animals seemed to deliver just what they were looking for. But for anybody else, Plants and Animals sound felt a little underwhelming.