After hearing about the Chicago group Office for what seems like years, I finally got a chance to experience the band myself as they had their NYC debut last night at the Mercury Lounge. Matt DuFour introduced me to their self-released album, Q & A, back in February. His love affair with this band has escaladed exponentially since those days, so I made a point to see them as soon as possible, mainly just to see if he was right on or full of shit.
This Chi-town quintet features three ladies and two dudes, with Scott Masson leading the pack as main vocalist, guitarist and occasionally keyboardist. He is supported by Tom Smith on guitar, Erica Corniel on drums, Alissa Noonan on bass and Jessica Gonyea on various percussion and backing vocals. Together they make quirky alt-pop with just a tiny hint of electro to help get the heads bopping and hips swaying.
The chemistry of Office is an interesting thing to watch in person. For example, bassist Noonan has a very chilled out, almost bored stage presence as she slowly sways to the beat of the songs. Somebody compared her to one of the Robert Palmer girls, which seemed to be appropriate. Balancing that out is the uber-energetic tambourine extraordinaire, the spunky Gonyea. It is an interesting dynamic, but it totally works.
Performing at an industry-heavy NYC show has got to be somewhat intimidating, taking stage in front of a bunch of jaded suits that look like they'd rather be getting root canals than be at a show. Office was smart, bringing a few fans from home to help liven up the crowd. Kicking off at 10pm sharp, the band wasted no time getting to business. Rocking through most of the tunes on their latest album, it was nice to hear that the songs hold up quite well live.
It is tough to nail down any comparisons, although I did hear a bit of The Cars on a few of the tunes, such as "The Big Bang Jump!" My two favorite songs of the night had to be "Wound Up" and "Oh My," two pieces of pop greatness. As the set ended, it was apparent that Office has the potential to be a very special band. They have the songs, and after they get some touring under their belt, big things could very well be in store for them.
Photos by Dorothy Hong