I had been looking forward to see Real Estate play a full set for a little while now. I have been playing their 2nd full-length Lp Days incessantly since it came out last year and had only seen them once before. That was back in January when they did a one-off Free at Noon show at World Cafe Live during the time when they were local AAA/indie station WXPN’s band to watch for that particular week. That was a great set and the sound (as it always is at World Cafe Live) was superb, but it was also short since they only got perform 6 songs or so and didn’t do my favorite song on Days (“All the Same”). This show was a different story entirely.
As far as the actual performance went, the show was good. They played a mix of material from their two Lps, concentrating mostly on material from Days. Some of the highlights included the single “It’s Real” (the song that got the most cheers from the sold-out crowd) and the aforementioned “All the Same”, which unlike most of their material has an extended repetitive instrumental section for most of its glorious 7 plus minutes. There were bits of goofing around as well. At one point when singer/guitarist Martin Courtney had to tune up, animated lead guitarist Matthew Mondanile and bassist Alex Bleeker improvised a mock jazz fusion composition with Mondanile remaining on guitar and Bleeker switching over to drums. To paraphrase what my wife said, it was if they were reliving their time spent in the high school jazz band. It showed that despite all the deserved praise heaped upon them since they started, they still don’t take themselves too seriously.
The problem that plagued their set, for me, was an absolutely abysmal sound mix that was perhaps the worst I’ve ever heard at this venerable, all-ages venue. I don’t know what caused it, but frankly it was an annoyance that prevented me from enjoying the set as much as I would have otherwise. Keyboards were triggered when they shouldn’t have been, feedback blared when it shouldn’t have and they couldn’t get the sound quite right. I don’t want to assign blame here as these things happen, but Real Estate is a band with a very particular, mannered sound and they have to sound right to be fully effective. Hopefully, the next time they play here, it’ll be at a proper venue with better sound. As much as I like the fact that the all-ages designation means that the kids can get in, I honestly wished that this show was at Johnny Brenda’s (where they sold out the last time they played a full headlining show here) or even Union Transfer. Clearly, they’re a band on the rise and it wouldn’t surprise me if the next time they played here, they did end up at the over 1,000 capacity Union Transfer or somewhere similar.
Openers The Twerps played pretty nice noisy indie rock, but had vocals that I just couldn’t get into. Belgrade, who opened the show, were a nice surprise, though sound-wise they definitely didn’t fit in with the rest of the bill. They reminded me of late ’90s emo bands like The Promise Ring and especially Jimmy Eat World and were nice enough to give away their demo cd-r at the merch table.