Ummm, holy shit. When I heard that Secret Machines were going to play Hiro Ballroom, I was less than thrilled. My favorite show of theirs had been a sweaty, packed and intense affair at Rothko a good two years ago, back when they didn't move much and were lighted by gelled stationary photo lights. But shit damn if that didn't change last night. Hiro had been turned into a proper venue for once, with a circular stage in the center of the ornately decorated, straight out of Kill Bill ballroom. I took my place right behind the drum kit, knowing that Josh Garza's Animal-meets-Moon drumming is by far the most electric part of their performances. The stage was set up so that from my vantage behind the drum kit, I could see Brandon at his keyboard and Ben at his mic, all with Garza's drumming in the forefront. I couldn't have made a shadow-box of my perfect rock set up any better.
I have never seen Secret Machines play a bad show musically. From venues like Sin-e and Rothko, to Roseland, to Hiro Ballroom, the musical prowess of Secret Machines is undeniable. But last night's show was a true event. Even after the smaller venues the band has played at, the intimacy afforded at Hiro last night was captivating. At times I felt like I was in the audience at Elvis' "'68 Comeback Special" due to closeness to the band and the all black attire, while at times I felt like I was witnessing the rock showmanship of a U2 at a Madison Square Garden show with rigs of lights and the tightness of the band.
Amid a smattering of old tunes from Now Here Is Nowhere, the boys rolled out mostly new tunes from Ten Silver Drops which hit on Tuesday (iTunes). Sometimes it's hard to play a slew of songs that a majority of the audience hasn't heard or been able to really familiarize themselves with, but it was clear the crowd was digging the new tunes "Lightning Blue Eyes," and "Alone, Jealous and Stoned," and were darn near frenzied when they pounded out and added new life to "The Road Leads Where It's Lead" and "First Wave Intact." And damn if I don't still get the vapors when the "Did you get your heartache and your headrush confused" line finally comes in on "Sad And Lonely."
Last night at Hiro Ballroom the Secret Machines once again proved themselves a force to be reckoned with. After the encore of two Now Here Is Nowhere tunes, Ben crossed over to his brother and gave him a smiley hug before crossing over to Josh and giving him an exultant hug as well. Last night Secret Machines were unquestionably the belles of Hiro Ballroom.