The Wrecks struggle to fill headlining set; supporting bands outshine

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The Wrecks struggle to fill headlining set; supporting bands outshine

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By Sam Cronin, lifestyle editor

Fans waited in line in the rain to get into the Sinclair Monday night. / Photo by Sam Cronin

It was a sea of low-cut, see-through tops and flannels soaked in purple light. Talks about crowd surfing at Warped Tour cut between Smash Mouth, Queens of the Stone Age and Bee Gees played over blown-out house speakers at the Sinclair Monday night. It was only 7:39 p.m., but it felt like hours had passed waiting for The Wrecks and their three “supporting acts” to come on. The quotes are there only to signify that the openers The Stolen, Deal Casino and Badflower far outshined the headliners.

The Wrecks, with millions of plays on their Spotify singles, were the main act of the night. From the cheers they received when they took the stage it was clear that most of the crowd had come for them. As to why, it’s anyone’s guess. They cemented a certain style and mood when they walked on in their Tommy Hilfiger, Harvard and David Bowie graphic tees. Their weak set of vapid, overproduced pop-punk left me wondering halfway through why they thought that each of their two guitarists, bass player and occasionally strumming frontman needed new instruments for almost every song. It was nearly impossible to tell where in their muddy, two or three chord songs the sound from up to three guitars was even going.

A few songs in, frontman Nick Anderson moved into what he called the “filler” material.

“We have like eight songs out in the world, about 27 minutes of music. Not enough to fill a headlining set… [haha] So this is what’s called filler,” Anderson said as he launched into an overbearingly edgy song with the lyrics, “She said ‘you’re a star,’ I said ‘what’s wrong with that?’ she said ‘that’s all you are.’”

Later, Anderson moved into what he called a stripped down version of their song “Revolution.” He said he started performing it live by himself, unaccompanied, because he couldn’t remember some of the lyrics.

“I couldn’t [expletive] remember the second verse, so I’d have the audience sing it and learn it overnight,” Anderson said, “I know it’s the laziest way to memorize something. I had bad study habits in school, I also didn’t have a hundred people helping me study.”

There was one other person in the room who seemed not to have fallen for this pretentious blend of Cage the Elephant with Vampire Weekend gone wrong, and that was one of The Wrecks’ roadies. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but the absolute legend spent the majority of the show behind a stage light thanklessly and joylessly tuning the 5+ instruments the band switched between over the course of their set.

The Stolen from New Jersey opened the night with a straightforward punch of garagey pop-punk. The sound and feel is probably what The Wrecks would like to say they have. The talented Jersey foursome banged out poetic lyrics about insecurity and suicide with a healthy dose of punchy drums and guitar from brothers Rob and Mike Chiarappa. Mike’s memorable riffs and fledgeling solos perked my ears and showed he might be a guitarist to watch.

“I wrote this song the day Anthony Bourdain died,” said guitarist/songwriter Mike Chiarappa as he introduced “Rooftop.” “Three notable people had [recently] died of suicide … It’s easy to make yourself look okay online, and it’s all about looking out for each other.”

The Stolen’s high energy performance starts off the night at the Sinclair. / Photo by Sam Cronin

Following The Stolen was fellow Jersey band Deal Casino, who clearly stole the show with their anxiety-inducing Queens of the Stone Age style of off-key riffing and screams. Far from being anti-melodic, however, their songs were engaging and still had a solid beat to tap to thanks in large part to the interplay of bass from Jon Rodney and drums from Christopher Donofrio. Keyboardist and guitarist Jozii Cowell worked heavy overtime onstage, juggling the duties of both instruments, and singer Joe Parella provided solid rhythm work and eerie vocals.

“Is anyone here to see Badflower?” said Parella, to cheers from the audience.

“The Wrecks?” he said, to more cheers.

“Us?” he said, to a still solid amount of cheers.

“You’re lying! But thank you.”

His engaging stage performance included leading the crowd in a sing-along to a chorus not many knew, taking a Polaroid shot of the audience from atop a tall amp and, finally, finishing their last song by jumping off it and landing solidly on the beat. Real rockstar stuff.

“I’ve been doin’ that for the last five or six shows. It was scary, but I’m used to it,” Parella said with a smirk from behind his band’s merch table.

Parella warms up his vocal chords as Cowell warms up his keyboard. / Photo by Sam Cronin

Apparently before the show, he’d been planning to hang from some rafters above the stage, but eventually decided to stick with his classic amp jump. When he heard Badflower start their set with a Rage Against the Machine song playing, he introduced them saying: “They’re good, really heavy.” He was right, so I scurried back as close to the front of the stage as I could.

Badflower, a stylish LA quartet, came onstage praising the previous acts.

“Give it up for The Stolen. I don’t wanna overshadow them too, Deal Casino kicked ass, give it up for them. Come on, do it better than that,” said singer Josh Katz with a chuckle. “You might know this one too, I dunno. I don’t really care,” Katz said as they launched into their hard rock set.

Katz and Espiritu share a moment of transcendence onstage at the Sinclair. / Photo by Sam Cronin

They were the only band to feature proper guitar solos, and guitarist Joey Morrow reminded us just how loud a Gretsch can get, while bassist Alex Espiritu’s contagious smile made it impossible not to wanna join in. The music was so energetic that towards the end of one song, Morrow swung his guitar around while playing, and finished up almost smashing it on the stage in a burst of adrenaline while Katz kneeled across stage keeping the song’s rhythm.

All in all, the Sinclair hosted a set of three very good bands supporting one who didn’t deserve it. Check out music from all the bands on Spotify to see for yourself, and keep an eye out for an upcoming record from The Stolen in January.