By Cassandra Paiva
The line outside of Lupo’s was full of fans already donning Fun. apparel. Earlier that day, Fun. did a signing at the local FYE. The line was out the door and around the corner. The crowd was most definitely a Fun. crowd (no pun intended).
The show, which was originally supposed to be at The Met, about 15 minutes away in Pawtucket, was moved to Lupo’s due to high demand and a need for a larger venue. Sleeper Agent were added to Fun.’s tour only a few weeks prior to the start. Sleeper Agent are no strangers to Providence, having played WBRU’s Summer Concert Series and Sweet Potato Ball and putting on a hell of a show while chugging more Narragansett than they could drink each time. Even though most of the crowd was there for Fun., Sleeper Agent had a few devotees in tow.
Bassist Lee Williams even joked that they were just grungy kids from Kentucky and no one even knew who they were and that people would ask ‘wait, who were the opening band?’ Despite this, the band delivered and the audience reacted positively. They decided to try and change up the setlist about half an hour before they went on, and having seen them twice before, it was a refreshing change.
They started with an even more stripped down intro to “Love Blood” before completely rocking out on the chorus. The stage was already partially preset for Fun., so the band seemed a little bit squished and restricted to the small area. (Six wild kids who don’t stand still on stage, especially lead singer Alex Kandel, confined to one area was almost saddening for me to watch.) However, despite the small area, they made the best of it and carried on with “Force A Smile.” At this point, the crowd was starting to realize what kind of music Sleeper Agent plays, and starting getting into it, swaying and head nodding.
Surprisingly, the people in the back of Lupo’s were cheering louder than those in the front. Whether or not these people were the Sleeper Agent devotees I mentioned earlier, I have no idea, but after a while the cheers starting coming from the front too, especially during “Bottomed Out” and Alex’s powerful “wah, ah, ah, i-e” part after the bridge. She then gave a, “We love Providence so much” before kicking off “Proper Taste,” which started a small mosh pit just off center of the crowd. Yea, maybe some of them were the devotees, since they were the ones dancing almost the whole time. That and I think I saw them at Sweet Potato Ball too.
“Shuga Cane” and the pit must have created some more excitement, because the people in the front row started really getting into it. Keyboardist Scott Gardner was on the floor head banging with a tambourine, hair all wild and free. Alex even leaned over closer to the front row. This lead into “Get It Daddy,” which most of the audience must have said, “Oh yea, I know this song,” because everyone was dancing or jumping by this point. Scott got the crowd even more jazzed by breaking out a hand held metal drum and jamming out on the stage’s side walk out. (fun fact: Scott used to be Sleeper Agent’s drummer in their beginning stages). While it wasn’t as crazy as the crowds at the previous Providence shows, it was pretty awesome for a show they were opening.
“Some White Blinds,” the band’s self-proclaimed climax of their set, followed and Lee’s ginger hair and beard (they don’t call him Grizzlee for nothing) hardly stood still as he head banged pretty much the whole time. Even though they call the previous song the set’s climax, second single “Get Burned” was probably just as exciting. Alex promoted the new video (which hometown friend, and Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Shultz directed) before preparing an eruption of energy. She and lead singer guitarist Tony Smith did their usual thing where they share one microphone and rock out, as if almost fighting for the mic. They even started a sing-a-long on the “on and on and on” chorus.
A slow, quiet instrumental started, and whilst having the audience’s attention, Alex thanked the crowd again, thanked BRU for the show and for introducing them to Gansett (they took a case on tour, seriously, look at their Twitter), and thanked Fun. for being great tour mates. That’s the great thing about this band, they’re not cocky, but they’re not entirely too humble either. They give thanks where thanks are needed and they know how to put on a show with confidence. Then, that low key instrumental turned into “That’s My Baby,” which started to lose the non-fans in the crowd. The fans were singing along and half way through those annoying concert couples were holding and hugging each other.
Continuing the slower theme, “Far and Wide” followed. Instead of the usual echo, they did some other kind of autotune-ish sound or loop track on the “wide.” Not knowing the song, most of the audience thought the break down was the end and started clapping before the final few chords. As usual (and my personal favorite), they ended with “Be My Monster.” This is where the band broke all the rules. Scott took the keyboard off its stand and started bashing at the keys. Alex decided that the small stage was too small and jumped over the barrier to the front row of the audience. The bridge part brought out a dance party both on stage and in the pit, until the instruments built up faster and faster to an explosive end.
Ending their set, the band took a picture for their Twitter and Facebook, thanked the crowd again, and ran off stage. After the show, they all went to the merch table to sign posters and take pictures. The line by their table was pretty long, which leads me to believe that the audience really did like them, and most likely remember their name. Overall, the band was extremely energetic and played a killer set. The crowd, on the other hand, could have been better, but, hey, it’s not their headlining tour. And even still, they play to their audience like everyone matters (or maybe that the haters DON’T matter?) and they seem to win over even more fans, so it’s a win-win.
(All photos ©timsiekiera2012)