WHO: The Postelles
WHERE: The Echo
"Come on L.A., prove to me you're louder than New York!" Postelles lead singer Daniel Balk yelled to the crowd at Tuesday night's gig at the Echo.
Met by modest cheers, he continued to evoke the age-old battle. "L.A., I know you can be louder than that!" he said, throwing a water bottle into the crowd, caught by no one in particular.
There are few things more frustrating or despicable at a live show than a crowd that doesn't make an effort--especially when the band, like the Postelles, are well worth the whoops and hollers. The New York quartet, whose long-awaited self-titled LP dropped June 7, delivered a high-energy, highly-danceable set that left us frankly aghast at the crowd's lack o' moves.
But it is summer, after all, and adoring but nonetheless shy high school students were in full force at the all-ages gig. But that doesn't mean the love wasn't there--adoring teen couples draped over one another's shoulders gazed at the stage, quietly singing along to tracks like "123 Stop" and flashing wide grins that told us they were far from apathetic--maybe they just weren't used to being out on a school night.
The fact of the matter is that the Echo's modest stage may have just been too small for a band like Postelles, who, while still decidedly up-and-coming, just might be the male answer to the recent proliferation of '60s girl pop revival groups. Balk, along with lead guitarist David Dargahi, bassist John Speyer and drummer Billy Cadden plowed through a set that was a little short but indisputably sweet, laying on the hooks and melodies thick and with unquestionable confidence.
They've certainly had time to hone it: The Postelles' story is at once the stuff of classic rock n' roll lore and an all-too-contemporary tale of the quicksanding music industry. The band formed in 2007 after meeting at New York's Columbia Prep and quite literally caught the ear of Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. as he happened to walk past the venue where they played an early gig. Hammond popped in, liked what he heard and took the band--who for better or for worse draw relentless comparisons to the Strokes--under his wing. A year later, they were signed to Capitol records. But as the label struggled to find its footing, the Postelles were bounced around, putting out a Hammond-produced EP on EMI subsidiary Astralwerks last year before receiving a phone call from a company lawyer that they'd gotten the boot.
Now with +1 Records, the boys' debut has proven to be not only worth the wait, but well-timed: in an era of skuzzy surf rock and pretentious psychedelic ramblings, the Postelles are refreshingly clean, to-the-point and catchy as hell. And while they certainly don't break any new ground--not everyone has to--they're more than the Strokes Jr., and are tinged as much by the disco-punk of We Are Scientists as by the classic simplicity of Buddy Holly (check out their cover of "Everyday").
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That said, the Postelles were for better or for worse a little rough around the edges live. It was clear Balk just wanted to let his howl loose, get the crowd moving and maybe take his tank top off, while Dargahi, who grinned adorably throughout the set, burst into fits of raw guitar solos: their full sound couldn't be contained on the cramped stage, and we mean that in quite a good way. In keeping with that theme, Balk returned to the stage for the encore wielding the biggest bottle of Jameson we'd ever seen.
He took a swig, picked up his guitar and the Postelles tore into the victory-lap standout track "White Night," singing "It's a long way down, but I wanna go." Someone get these guys to a festival--and fast.