Arctic Monkeys + Smith Westerns // 10-1-11 // Walker

Arctic Monkeys in Winnipeg
Photo by Andrew Mazurak at the Walker in Winnipeg.

The Arctic Monkeys came through Winnipeg with Chicago’s Smith Westerns at the Burton Cummings earlier this month and it ended up being a verrrry surprising affair.

Let it be known that Stylus was among the (small?) fraction to see Smith Westerns and we agreed with the majority of this fraction that it was not an overly satisfying part of the evening. It may have been that the band was on a larger stage than their look/sound/performance could handle.. but this was only the seventh show on a stretch with the Arctic Monkeys.. so there is really no excuse for such a drab Winnipeg showcase. And this is coming from many attendees who fell for their 2009 self-titled debut and this years stellar Dye It Blonde..

Smith Westerns in Winnipeg
Photo by Jordan Janisse.

I get that an apathetic psyche accounts for many of these surf/psych-garage/bedroom rock revival acts that wish they weren’t born half a century after the real magic happened, but the Smith Westerns infantile live experience was punching me in the face that night, and judging by their Austin City Limits performance (that sounds many many times better), it is something that this band really needs work on: “they need to get better at performing live. they need to connect with the audience and not look uncomfortable. i like them and i think their music is awesome but they look like douchebags because of their vibe on stage. they didnt´╗┐ even say goodbye when they were done performing”, says the most-liked commenter from that YouTube video.

Arctic Monkeys in Winnipeg
Photo by Andrew Mazurak.

Arctic Monkeys, on the other hand, are clearly a rock band that has some live experience notched all over their well worn belts. This band is a concert photographer’s dream and they truly gave the crowd a bigger than life vibe as frontman Alex Turner, who was rocking a wicked Leonard Cohen t-shirt (swag//respekt), restated why their debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not is still the “fastest-selling debut album in UK chart history”. Crazy I know..

Unfortunately we weren’t lucky enough to hear “Mardy Bum” live.. which is still the only song I wanted to see after it was also shockingly absent from the 2006 Sasquatch Music Festival performance that I caught many lives ago…. BUT the setlist seemed to be full of favourites since every word of every song was screamed by all the kids on the floor.

Regardless of the disappointments and surprises, the night was fun as shit due to the Walker being a block from some sick Nuit Blanche events that went on til sunrise:

Arctic Monkeys:
Arctic Monkeys in Winnipeg
Arctic Monkeys in Winnipeg
Arctic Monkeys in Winnipeg

What did you think of the show? Comment tha fuck outta those forms right down thurrrr!

Review/Photographs by Andrew Mazurak for Stylus Magazine

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