Tonight seemed like a ‘coming out party’ of sorts as Fiction Plane proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s not just the band that feature Sting’s son. So people, what goes on? Welcome to the 39th edition of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series which brings us to the Mercury Lounge in New York City to see the band ‘Fiction Plane’ (Joe Sumner-Bass/Vocals, Seton Daunt-Guitar, Pete Wilhoit-Drums). And there’s an interesting sidebar story with tonight’s proceedings as it’s an “early show”. By early I mean EARLY. Doors are set to open at 6:30 according to ‘Bowery Presents’ website, which also lists Fiction Plane’s set time at 7:30PM. Put it in perspective: Bowery Presents website has info on the later show here tonight and says doors for that open at 8:45.. being a Monday night it doesn’t bother me that’s it’s early.. I’m just psyched to see this band..So I say we take a seat and enjoy this Jay Porks Experience.
Fiction Plane was a band that first came to my attention in 2008 when their single “Two Sisters” started to get major play on local rock stations over here the in big apple. Then I got to see them briefly all the way back at the third ever version of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series-that was a show in NJ where they opened up on that year’s ‘Unity Tour’ w/ 311 and Snoop Dogg. I didn’t catch their whole set that day due to long lines while filing into the PNC Bank Arts Center so when I saw them headlining a gig for $12 a ticket I was more than thrilled. Especially at the Mercury Lounge-one of my favorite venues to see a show.
Arrived at 6:15.. I’m used to saying that I hopped out of the cab at this time, but uncharacteristic of my usual laziness-I took public transportation the whole way there.. And patting myself on the back for finding the place without looking up directions either-went on my own memory; which is suspect at times but paid off here. So I walk in and say “Hi, my ticket is a will call”- I was met with a hand to the chest and told ” Okay great-We’re not open yet. Doors are at 6:30 and first band is going on at 7″.. I walk back out and there’s a whole 11 people outside( I counted-but then again half of these people may be with one of the bands). Let me tell you why this is the type of place I love to see a show- it’s the definition of a ‘sweat box’. It’s tiny, a foul stench will fill the room once full and it looks like it hadn’t passed a building inspection in 20 years. I didn’t even remember how small the room was until I got in-it’s reminiscent of the living room at my house. There’s one guy serving as event staff and he’s at the door check I.D.’s. As 7PM draws closer I see we’re up to at least 30- something people now. I’m sitting along the bench on the wall placing my cup on the stage to reserve the space for now-as I’m gonna enjoy a seat as long as I can before the show starts… I think I’m going to have to back up when the bands come on to try and get my camera in better position. As I’m sitting there starting this review on my iPod I notice an older couple sat down next to me. Not older like 30 or 40, older like senior discount. Minutes pass and at least two or three other couples in the same age range walked in-I saw one woman looking for a seat so I offered her mine. Can’t pass up a easy mitzvah when it presents itself.
The Globes hailing from Spokane, Washington, hit the stage a minute or two after 7.. working with Two guitarists(who share vocal duties), drummer with a bass player doubling on keyboard. Whenever I see any type of keyboard on stage I get discouraged a bit-but I got into these dudes fairly quickly.. Guitar player on my side of the stage was working multiple pedals below him distorting noises much to my enjoyment. They do a lot of start-stop/ loud quiet loud stuff with their sound; by the third song in these dudes were rocking hard- riffin heavy guitars building up during verses leading to softer choruses with harmonically sang vocals at times. The drummer had on a Modest Mouse tee shirt. These guys look like they’re gonna smack their instruments together as they are so close to each other on this small stage violently rocking back and forth with each strum. They kept thanking us and seemed very happy to be here. Well, we were happy to have them as The Globes went off at 7:40PM to substantial applause from the growing crowd. I noticed on their MySpace page that they’re playing a show Friday(11/19) in Brooklyn at a place called ‘The Rock Shop’. If you’re in town you should check them out-won’t be let down.
I’m a pessimist at heart-so it’s surprising to me that this place is not as empty as I thought it would be, as I returned from my mid-band cigarette to find myself not able to get back to my spot against the stage. Wasn’t mad about it because I needed to back up anyway- so now I’m standing about 4 or 5 rows of people back as the crowd pushes themselves closer to the stage as minutes pass. Joe Sumner is on stage discussing with a roadie the status of an acoustic guitar they seemed to be having trouble with. Finally Joe says over the mic to the sound guy “It’s broken-so I guess fuck it”.
They kicked the set off with a song called “Two Sparks”- a tune easy to sing along to through your first listen as people begin to do- screaming the “We’re gonna burn you!” line of the song. The room has filled out nicely by now, as I’m being bumped into on occasion. I thought I was in here to enjoy the handful of Fiction Plane songs I’m familiar with-not the case at all. As each song went by I kept thinking “Wow-this legitimately rocks”. Two things I quickly noticed while these dudes were playing: 1)This guitar player insane! And 2) Joe Sumner is having tons of fun up there. He’s jumping around, leaning into the crowd, bullshitting in-between songs all smiles all night. Like when they jumped into the song “It’s A Lie” a few songs later-he joked about having to “sing high on this next one”. Seton Daunt is the aforementioned guitar player-and man he’s doing some amazing stuff over there. Dude had a pedal board of Mascis-type proportions. Sumner introduced the band more than once- “I’m a registered alien” Joe says before he pointed to the drums “Pete Wilhoit behind the drums..He’s an American (to a loud cheer)… And on guitar Seton Daunt who is a foreigner!”(to a louder cheer).. Also when the opportunity presented itself Sumner hit us with some funky bass grooves. And even though sometimes unfairly tagged as Sting’s son’s band-there were times where one would look up and hear those dashes of Ska along with singer playing bass; it’s hard not to say “Wow, these guys are like ‘The Police’ meets 90’s alternative!”. At the same time Sumner’s demeanor and stage presence makes you realize that people would probably think higher of Sting if he wasn’t such a Prick. Yes, I said it. Obviously I’ve never had the privilege to meet the man or had a personal discussion of any sort with him. But he just comes off to me as a prick; complete opposite of his fun loving, energetic and entertaining(along with hard rockin’) son. As songs play Sumner seemed to be enjoying us as a crowd(the building was literally ROCKING as I felt the floor below me basically bouncing with thumps for most of the night-felt like it was going to caved in). He said he was enjoying us more than we were enjoying the band-kept saying how great it was to finally be back in NYC and saying things like “from here you guys are doing amazing!”.. Easy to be a good crowd when a rocking band is As the night progressed I was impressed more and more. It’s getting really hot in here, Sumner seems to agree as he takes his leather jacket off midway through the night. Their sound is far from complacent as we shifted from Ska/Reggae flavors to pretty heavy, almost headbanging type levels of rocking throughout the evening. There are two girls in front of me who are way into this-flailing arms in the air, dancing around and screaming with unbridled enthusiasm at the start of most songs. I mean, a hand or two may have gotten in the way of the video I was recording, but I’m not here to complain about fans enjoying a show. I’d be doing that if I wasn’t “working”. The crowd was summoned for assistance in singing on a few songs- “Tommy” off their 3rd full length studio effort ‘Sparks’, which was released earlier this year. “Why don’t I have more than one of their records?” is what I kept asking myself. “Sadr City Blues” was another one of the endless amazing songs they played-Unfortunately I was not able to obtain an official set list myself, but a reader at ConcertConfessions.com named Wendy found it for me and posted it in the comments. I’ll paste it to the bottom of this post.
My cell phone shows me 8:45PM so I know we’re closing this out soon… as we got towards the end of the night, Sumner looks at the set list and says “Okay whats next… well, the guitar is broken so I guess we can’t play that one!” as they then jump into their most popular song to date “Two Sisters”.. I was singing along as quietly as possible because I was trying get video on that one. Extended it a little bit as the song went for roughly six minutes. Anyone who’s been to a concert knows that feeling you get when you finally hear that favorite song you have by the band you came to see that night. A state of bliss that can only be match by sex or the taking of illegal substances. I was totally walking on air at that point as a journalist turned prissy little fan boy-they played one or two more before 9PM rolled around and it was time to say goodnight..
What a night! Fiction Plane took care of business tonight in every sense of the phrase. I’ll be the first to admit in all honesty I did not think they would rock THAT hard. I underestimated them and in return got blown away. I’m at the iTunes store as we speak getting more of their music to put on my iPod. Why aren’t these dudes more known? Their sound is so easy for your ears to get along with-down right funky at times. It can’t be denied that this is a lot more that “The band Sting’s son is in”, but don’t take my word for it-take me up on this offer: See them live and if you exit the venue anything less than blown away then shoot over an email and the Jay Porks Experience will personally refund what you paid for you ticket. That’s how confident we are in the musical abilities of Fiction Plane.. it’s a sure thing.
For those who made it this far, our deepest thanks go out to you for taking a glimpse into the Jay Porks Experience. Next on the concert calender is ‘Matisyahu’ 11/29 at the Brooklyn Bowl.. should be fun-hope to see you there. LATE.
Official set list as handwritten by Joe Sumner:
It’s A Lie
Drink (not played due to acoustic guitar situation)
La La La