[18 December 2003]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
After a year-long hiatus from the frigid winter confines of New York City, the Boys arrived back in town to promote their recently released album, Commitment. And what a return it was.
Playing before an SRO contingent of rabid “geeks”, the energized quintet tore through 11 songs in just under 40 minutes. Working the short set to perfection, the Boys deftly alternated between new material and favorites from their 2001 major label debut, Throwing the Game. The beautiful fluidity of “Fred Astaire” juxtaposed against the rhythmic punch of “Sunday Afternoon”, the power of “Bossman” complemented by the simple fun of “Atari”, the pop luster of the hit single “Hey Driver” followed by the raucous “3 to 10”. Every band worth its salt needs a signature anthem, and this paean to “the backseat” is unquestionably the Boys’ calling card.
To those in attendance it made no difference that the Boys were the second act of the night, sandwiched between openers Plain White T’s and headliners Zebrahead. This evening was all about Lucky Boys Confusion, as the Chicago Five continue to build their growing army of loyalists. Few bands yet to hit the mainstream have a more dedicated fan base, so it isn’t surprising that the Boys successfully attract enthusiastic crowds far from home. Proof of the Boys’ drawing power came after closing their set. Once they left the Knit’s cramped stage, the entire floor of patrons emptied out, retreating to the bar area or simply into the chilly December night. New Yorkers are a hard lot to please, but that roomful of “geeks” had come to see their Boys rock the house and no one else, and not a single person went home disappointed.
So what is it that makes Lucky Boys so appealing? Kaustubh “Stubhy” Pandav’s vocals and stage presence? Joe Sell and Adam Krier alternating guitar licks? Jason Schultejann and Ryan Fergus locking in the bottom? Or maybe it’s that the band is so damn fun to watch live? All of the above, but let’s not forget some legitimately great songs in their burgeoning repertoire.
Another key to Lucky Boys’ popularity is often the most overlooked; these guys are a genuinely talented bunch. Far removed from their limited garage band contemporaries, the Boys are a skilled musical unit, not afraid to think “out of the box” with their songwriting or musicianship. Have any doubts? Fire up the new disc and compare the hard rocking pop of “Beware” and “Blame” with the thoughtful sensitivity of “Mr. Wilmington”.
As they continue to tour and win converts, Lucky Boys are positioning themselves for broader market success in the not too distant future. This is not journalistic gushing, but merely a statement of fact. There is a magical feeling in the air when the Boys take the stage, one that is tough to ignore. The brain trust at Elektra picked up on this energy, and wisely signed the Boys to a well-deserved major label deal. It shouldn’t be much longer before the Boys are consistently the featured, rather than support act on the club and festival circuit.
For the time being however, those who get it are “lucky” whenever an opportunity presents itself to see the Boys shake the rafters. Let’s hope the New York faction of “geeks” doesn’t have to wait another full year to welcome the Boys back into town.