Live Review: Paper Route @ the TLA 10/2/12
Tuesday night in Philly showcased a multi-platinum group with eight albums now underneath their belt, and a band we saw in Fishtown just three years ago for the first time. Which group blew our mind?
Paper Route was the lesser-known group, which was quite apparent at South Street’s TLA on Tuesday night as they opened for Switchfoot. The crowd was jammed in early, eager to get a foothold in order to see Jon Foreman do his thing in all of his alt rock glory. While Switchfoot is known to us, they were not the reason we attended. Instead, Paper Route’s blistering rhythms blew our eardrums out in Kung Fu Necktie (KFN) back in 2008. Since then, we dubbed it our favorite show that year, despite an earful of ringing. To top off our experience, the band immediately moved across the street from the venue only to play all of their songs in acoustic form. Seeing a band so in love with music, even in the sub-50 degree weather on a street corner was an experience I’ll never forget. Suddenly, it all made sense when discovering they were from Nashville; a town with musicians aspiring to someday open up for a large band and perhaps, someday, be that band themselves.
Paper Route’s second album The Peace of Wild Things had much to live up to in my eyes. Absence was one of those albums that stick with you for years. The type of music delivered (pun intended) is something not too many bands can pull off, particularly in live form. As a made-for-CD type of album, there are a lot of kinks to work out when it comes to performing it live. You need someone in charge of a moog, keyboard, synth drum, drums and perhaps a third set of drums, which were also on stage on a platform. There’s also background harmonizing, three guitars and a tambourine. While that last item will not make or break the show, J.T. Daly took the helm with vocals, moog, drums and tambourine, showing his full-spectrum of Tennessee talent.
To no surprise, their set began with their intro track to TPWT, “Love Letters”. In fact, the band played heavily into their new album, leaving only two tracks from Absence to be revealed during the show. The crowd warmed up quick when “Two Hearts” began after a few kind words to the dedicated Switchfoot fans, which led predictably into their signature track from their new album “Better Life”. The band seamlessly played the songs live, translating a seemingly complex list of songs into a fluid live performance.
Another poppy tune from their new album, “You and I”, which was Paper Route’s first single from the album, was readily accepted as the packed TLA came to a self-realization as to how great this opener really was. It was certainly odd to see a group of Switchfoot fans get down with a track that blew us away at KFN three years earlier: “Gutter”. It can’t be said enough how over-the-top Gavin McDonald’s drumming was. The beats, the amount of work, the speed and the complexity of handling two drum kits at once was mezmorizing all in itself.
Paper Route played a set worth about 40 minutes, which was much more than I had expected. Drawing their set to a close was the rising and dropping of “Dance On Our Graves”, a song which allowed the band to draw out more than seven minutes of pure Absence bliss. Paper route blew the crowd out with their finale, particularly where the track breaks out around 4:30. I think they’ve managed to gain a few new followers.
For those of you new to Paper Route, their new album comes highly recommended from us, so please check it out on iTunes. If you’re a single-snatcher, listen to “Better Life” or “You & I”.