Would they live up to the hype? What would the crowd be like? How freakin' loud would the music be? These were some of the questions I had during the day before seeing the Arctic Monkeys at one of my favorite venues, Chicago's Metro.
As I walked up to the entrance, about 1.5 blocks north of Wrigley Field, no one was waiting outside to get in, save the door guys waiting to check IDs. The show was just minutes away and the hippest of the hipsters were already planted inside.
We strolled upstairs to see a completely packed house and as we made it to our table the band took the stage and started in. From the moment this new British sensation started playing the hyper-charged opener "The View From The Afternoon," a crowd of about 50 people in front of the stage started jumping, bouncing and singing along to every word - and this went on for the entire 55-minute set. The opening line definitely lived up to its promise: "Anticipation has the habit to set you up/For disappointment in evening entertainment but/ Tonight there'll be some love." The boys didn't disappoint.
The second song, surprisingly, was their breakout hit, the upbeat, dance-rocker "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor," and the madness took off from there. Churning out song after song from their album, the Arctic Monkeys turned the volume up to 11 and tore through their set, leaving without an encore.
On songs like "Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But...," the band showcased its ability to play with the crowd, tempting and teasing them as they'd stop and start, all the while keeping the kids hanging on to every...single...chord and word. One highlight was definitely "Fake Tales Of San Francisco," which I still believe is a gay pride song. Who knows - maybe I'm projecting.
I could be wrong, since it is nearly impossible to understand singer Alex Turner when he talks, but I think they introduced a new song. I say this because I didn't recognize it and the audience seemed to chill out for a few minutes, looking like they were trying to memorize the words to this one as well. If this is any indication of the direction the band is heading, and if it quells any questions critics may have whether Arctic Monkeys has more in them than just this one over-hyped (but well deserved) album, I'd have to say yes. It was a more mature sounding effort, not as spastic or hard-driven.
In a poetic gesture, Arctic Monkeys closed the set with "A Certain Romance," the final song on their album, by walking off stage with their guitars lying on the ground repeating a droning chord. This gave the crowd the impression they were going to come back, pick up where they left off and offer one final piece of madness. But the house lights shockingly came on 30 seconds later.
In the end, the crowd wasn't disappointed. We headed next door to the Gingerman Tavern and overheard many people talking about how hot they thought the show was. In fact, I ran into Andrew Langer, guitarist for the Redwalls, who seemed pretty blown away by what he had just seen - and this from a guy who's toured with Oasis.
So did Arctic Monkeys live up to the hype? Was this one of the livest shows in awhile? When you have a packed crowd that spends the entire show jumping about and dancing, singing to every line and a super-high energy level that eats you up and spits you out 55-minutes later, I'd say hell yeah.