07.19.2012 Fang Island at the Arch Street Tavern, Hartford

The lead up to Fang Island‘s July 19th tour kick off show in Connecticut was an interesting one. Originally scheduled to be held in Danbury at the Beatles cover band and the like but over the past few months, it has begun booking more national acts.

Despite this shift towards more national acts, Fang Island is the biggest show the venue has ever housed. Filled to capacity, the band had to excuse themselves through the crowd to make it to the stage (no backstage area in this tight space!) People were packed directly against the stage which stands no more than a few inches elevated from the crowd. So as the band hurried to get their equipment plugged in and ready to go, the crowd seemed right on top of them, watching their every move.

Once the band started though, the crowd’s eager energy was released. Although most of the crowd was there to see the night’s headliner, the Hold Steady, they seemed transfixed to Fang Island’s unique combination of metal guitar chops, pop songwriting, and mathrock time-signature changes. Heads bobbed along as best as humanly possible; fists were thrust into the air at mostly appropriate times.

For fans of the band, the timing of the show was a little awkward. Fang Island’s new album, Major will be released tomorrow which means the band is touring to promote this release but the album is still unreleased. That means for fans, they were in for a treat of a set populated by songs they had never heard before. The setlist seemed to be split fairly evenly between songs from the band’s debut album and their forthcoming sophomore effort. What saved the set from feeling disastrous is the fact that Fang Island’s debut was largely instrumental so it is not like fans came expecting to sing along. Most fans were content enough to just head bang and marvel at the precision of the three-pronged guitar attack. And marvel we all did. The set went off without a hitch, save for a broken guitar string.