Considering how often it happens, it kinda sucks to use a review as a starting point. But Jonathan Garrett's review of the Whigs' In The Dark last week on P4k made me think. Garrett sounded as though he'd been following the Whigs since they first started detonating small stages in Athens several years ago, a young rock band that sounded so big, they were more or less destined to play gigantic rooms. And not long after the '08 release of their last LP, Mission Control, they landed themselves a cherry opening slot in front Kings of Leon, another Southern band whose Grammy-winning last record sounded so big to Eddie Vedder upon his first listen, he said they too were bound to do the same but on a much bigger scale. Jumps were made. According to a quote used by Garrett, that tour had a profound impact on the Whigs and how they wanted to approach the writing and recording of In The Dark: they didn't just want to sound bigger, they wanted to be huge themselves. Garrett didn't like the record much at all. Though "technically flawless," he said it was polished and processed and scrubbed clean of the grit that made them so great early on. To an extent, his ears are right. It is slick and there are a number of Edge licks in there, an obvious enough signal for most haters to start sharpening their knives and critics to start churning out the "arena-ready" tag. But what's most interesting is their experience. What was it about that tour opening for Kings of Leon? What happened? What were the interactions like between the those two groups of dudes? What did they feel in front of those crowds? When and how does a band decide it's time to make that move, to just go for it? A good friend of mine saw them play Irving Plaza in New York semi-recently and said they walked out in tighter jeans and sleeveless tees, kind of like a less good-looking, less sexy version of you-know-who. What could possibly explain that change?!
The Whigs, In The Dark
The Whigs, Right Hand Over My Heart