The Features, The Black Keys

Mark Salmon 05/07/2010

This was my first gig indoors for a few months, what with it being festival season. The major difference I find between a festival crowd and a normal gig is that a festival audience is more varied and subsequently more open to enjoying new bands, where as with normal gigs the audience tends to be there for one reason, the headline band.

I however wasn't at this gig for the headline act of the Black Keys, I was there to witness their psychedelic pop rock combo support act The Features. You may or may not be aware of this band, personally I was unaware of them, but still in festival mode I decided to check out a new band, I had tried in vain to listen to their music before the gig, so not to look like a right plum and be caught singing the wrong words, but for the week preceding the gig no music from the bands MySpace could be heard.

The Features hail from Tennessee, so before a single note is played at least we know their going to rock out. You see Tennessee seems to have two main exports, at least to my knowledge anyway, Whiskey and Rock n roll, and it excels greatly at both.

The Features' sound like The Raconteurs if they told the Kings of Leon to get Ok Go drunk at a barn dance, then steal their melodies whilst they were passed out on the floor.

The night begins with Matt Pelham leading his band on stage with the swagger and confidence normally found in more established groups. Usually support acts are there to warm up the crowd and get them in the mood for the headline slot, so it's refreshing to see the four piece kick into their set with vigour, energy and excitement.

The lead singer hides behind his Brit Pop style floppy fringe for most of the set, if we're on our best behavior he'll give us some eye contact and voice a sentence or two, obviously we've been naughty tonight as the band/audience interaction is kept to a minimum. One thing attending a music university, or college if you're American, obviously doesn't teach you is how to interact with a crowd. However thankfully it did teach the band one thing and that's how to write kick ass bluesy rock pop tunes. Although in defense of The Features the lackluster participation seemed to be down to lack of audience enthusiasm, don't get me wrong there was a small portion of the crowd throwing care to the wind and rocking out, if only the cool cats would've joined in the fun rather than stand back with skepticism. In spite of this the band is more concerned with treating the audience to some rock and giving us as many songs as possible packed into forty-five minutes.

This group aren't just a flash in the pan act that we're used to here in the UK, through Radio one incessantly playing songs to death, these guys seem committed to earning their stripes and working their way up the ranks. At least this way we're sure that somewhere further down the line, the trials and tribulations of the journey, will some how work its way into a song.

Overall this band treated the crowd to some bourbon soaked bluesy pop tunes and had a good time doing it. It's a shame the excitement wasn't reciprocated by the whole audience, but then for a support act it very rarely is. With a support slot at Hyde Park for the Kings of Leon I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing more of these guys in the future.