Spending a week preparing for a concert is taxing. I listened to The Vaccines on the way to class. I listened to The Vaccines on a run in the gym. I even put them on my iPod speakers while I was shaving in the morning. By the Friday before the concert, I was just dying to hear them live.
As I walked into Union Transfer Feb. 2, I was greeted by a bar with merchandise from The Vaccines and their opener, San Cisco. The venue itself reminded me of an old Western scene. The completely wooden concert hall had its over-21 section on a balcony above the main floor, separated with a railing. It was lit by a dim yellow light. The venue maintained the vibe so well that I almost imagined the musty smell of cigar smoke coming off the wood. The crowd fit the venue perfectly. There was enough arm space to raise your hands to the music and to boogie on your own. No one was complaining when someone moved up to get a better position for the stage.
Music immediately started playing when the lights dimmed, and San Cisco got right to business. Their music was a funky melody of indie rock, and it was obvious that a majority of the crowd (other than the two young men screaming at the top of their lungs and thrusting their hands in the air) had never listened to them before. Despite that, everyone enjoyed them. It was a smooth type of rock that was catchy and called for swaying to the beats and people whispering, “They’re pretty good.” There was even a prom proposal for the cute crowd-favorite drummer, Scarlett Stevens. Overall, San Cisco was an incredibly charming band that did a great job warming up the crowd for The Vaccines with fantastic music that used more than one vocalist. If there was any criticism for San Cisco, it was that their stage presence largely centered on vocalist Jordi Davieson while bassist Nick Gardner and lead guitarist Josh Biondillo didn’t interact with the crowd.
After San Cisco left, the venue switched to prepare for The Vaccines. The time it took, however, was unbearably long. It almost took away from the great warm-up that San Cisco gave for them. Then, suddenly, the lights dimmed and concertgoers immediately screamed and cheered at the top of their lungs. Like San Cisco, The Vaccines went immediately into playing, and the entire crowd was dancing to their jam. “Wreckin’ Bar,” the second song they played, rekindled the flame in the crowd.
There was no pushing or shoving from the crowd during the majority of the performance, and The Vaccines’ stage presence was nothing less than spectacular. Vocalist Justin Young made the crowd go wild with his hair flips and singing close enough for the audience to make grabs at him during “Teenage Icon.” Lead guitarist Freddie Cowan enjoyed running around the stage playing with drummer Peter Robertson and making the crowd swoon as he played over them. There were also some failed crowd-surfing attempts.
The Vaccines were able to make “Wetsuit,” a typically slow song, exciting through their enthusiasm and energetic stage presence.
The crowd was screaming for an encore before the last band member left the stage. The Vaccines then came back with a final rendition of “Noorgard” that had everyone moshing and singing as hard as they could. I was practically shoved into the front with a man’s elbow in my throat as I watched the vocalist spit out lyrics.
The concert was an amazing experience, and everyone seemed to leave the venue with great smiles. Union Transfer provided a great space for everyone to enjoy, and the music was crystal clear with the equipment that was used.
The only thing that I wished I could have received from The Vaccines was more crowd interaction. As a first-timer to one of their concerts, I wanted more insight on what kind of personality they had and what their music was really about. It seemed like The Vaccines simply rushed through their playlist.
That being said, The Vaccines are still a definite recommendation, and I hope to see them again at some point.