words by Andrew Sacher, photos by Toby Tenenbaum
At 10:15 PM on Wednesday night (10/19), the lights dimmed over the packed Music Hall of Williamsburg, save for a single spotlight shining over the empty stage, as the demonic organ intro of Arctic Monkeys' "Pretty Visitors" rang through the club's PA. Shortly after, the band entered the stage and Alex Turner, decked out in Gene VIncent-style leather jacket and hair, grabbed the mic and leaned over the crowd as he and the band went directly into the song's frantic first verse. Alex stuck to the mic for most of the song, only arming himself with a guitar for the song's sludge-drenched ending. Keeping up with the sludgefest they had just created, the band followed "Pretty Visitors" with "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" off this year's Suck It And See.
At this point Arctic Monkeys are used to playing much larger venues, but they still fit perfectly in the small club environment of Music Hall of Williamsburg, where they ended their North American tour. Demand from fans might be sending these guys to huge stages, but for a band whose genre of music connotes playing in a garage, smaller venues will always feel like home.
After a few of their lighter songs, Alex took off his jacket and said, "Alright, enough fucking about," before the jackhammer drums and strobelight craze of "Brainstorm." Refusing to slow down, the band went into the one-two punch of Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not's "The View From The Afternoon" and "I Bet You Look Good Dance On The Floor," which began with Alex jumping off the bass drum as he struck the song's first chord. The familiar songs gave the band a chance to work in some sillier antics, like extra-long pauses (something they did quite often), but these were delivered with a slick confidence that only increased the crowd's constant approval.
The band pummeled through more excellent cuts, and though they've undergone some changes in sound over the last few years, they effortlessly blended new and old tracks with a setlist that tore down the boundaries of each album's overall sound. Before leaving the stage, Alex Turner began the crowd-singalong intro of "When The Sun Goes Down," leading directly into the band's abrupt entrance which yielded the most intense push pit of the night.
After a short break, the Arctic Monkeys returned for a three-song encore, beginning with the choppy energy of "Teddy Picker" and leading into the britpop meets stoner jam "Crying Lightning." Ending their set the way it began, keyboard samples floated through the air as Alex crooned the lyrics of their closing track, "505." Upon finishing the song, Alex flung his guitar onto the stage and walked off, ending the show after about an hour and fifteen minute set which easily could have been far longer without any complaint from the crowd.
The Smith Westerns opened the show. More pictures, video and setlist below...
Arctic Monkeys - "Pretty Visitors" at MHOW 10/19/11
Arctic Monkeys - "Evil Twin" at MHOW 10/19/11
The Smith Westerns
Arctic Monkeys Setlist:
Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair
The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
The View From The Afternoon
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
This House Is A Circus
Still Take You Home
Evil Twin (new song)
Brick By Brick
Do Me A Favour
Suck It And See
When The Sun Goes Down