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Hey, Mercedes!

Pop/Punk Band Headlines A Rockin’ Night at T.T.’s

By Petar Simich

Hey Mercedes, Armor For Sleep, Panic In Detroit, Lost Pilot

T.T. the Bear’s Place

Feb. 22, 8 p.m.

Despite the cold and wet Saturday night, people still trudged their way to the intimate venue of T.T. the Bear’s Place, several blocks up Mass. Ave. from the Institute. All four bands that night took the form of the basic rock quartet.

First up was Lost Pilot, a local band that just released its first album. They’re a solid pop/ punk hybrid with a decent variety of songs, and they put on a pretty entertaining show. They certainly got into their music, with the lead guitarist bouncing around and the bassist grooving to the music with the help of his distinctive orange bass amp. The singer/ guitarist handled the vocals pretty well, putting in plenty of power and emotion into his singing. It was a decent set; I’d go see Lost Pilot perform again.

Next up was Panic In Detroit -- they’re from Texas, go figure -- which had more of a hard rock edge to their music. Their songs were more varied with elements. As my friend pointed out, they borrowed from Rush and even the sliding guitar effect that’s in Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.”

One song I particularly liked sounded like “That Thing You Do” by the Wonders. Several of the songs kept you on your toes, as they ended in places that you’d least expect them. I was also kept on my toes by the cute female bass player. Panic In Detroit was definitely the second-best band that performed that night, and I hope that they come back to Boston in the future.

Armor For Sleep walked on and said, “Hi, we’re Armor For Sleep and we’re from New Jersey.” Ah, New Jersey. That means that they’re either a metal band or a pop punk/ emo band. I put my money on the latter due to their clothes and haircuts, and sure enough, I made bank! The singer/guitarist had the traditional teenage kid voice. My friend observed that the drummer looked rather stoned. The lead guitarist enjoyed thrashing around off to the side while the bassist swung his bass around like a club and aimed it skywards. Boy, I got a kick out of those guys.

In one of the songs the singer/guitarist started thrashing around and shoved his guitar right into the microphone. Punk rock! For the intro of one song he said that it was about “girlfriends who ditch their boyfriends at parties.” You should’ve heard me and the rest of the guys in the audience respond to that one. The singer smiled back, “Yeah, I know, it sucks.”

Overall, Armor For Sleep was okay. They were more pop punk than overtly emo, and I caught myself tapping along to some of the tunes, although there wasn’t much chord progression in some of them.

It was now time for the performance that everyone was waiting for: Hey Mercedes. I’ve been a fan of the Milwaukee quartet ever since I first saw them two years ago with Jets To Brazil at the Middle East. Their unique brand of fast, intense, drum-heavy pop punk with odd time signatures didn’t let the audience down that night.

They kicked things off with “Eleven to Your Seven,” one of the better tracks off of their album Everynight Fire Works. Immediately the crowd started shouting and singing along with lead vocalist/ guitarist Robert Nanna. The entire band was tight. Nanna sang intensely and motioned every now and then with his hands to put emphasis on his lyrics. Drummer Damon Atkinson was incredible. His drumming was solid, and he would do occasional feats of showmanship, twirling a drumstick in his hand before having it crash down on the snare.

Hey Mercedes was the only band that night to use its other band members, guitarist Michael Shumaker and bassist Todd Bell, on backing vocals regularly, adding some pleasant vocal dynamics to the songs. Bell screwed up on one of the songs, but heck, everyone has their bad days. Right when I was going to start shouting out songs for them to play they launched into my favorite and arguably their best song, “A-List Actress,” which bounces between three and four beats per measure throughout the song. They also debuted four new songs that they’ll be recording soon for their album that is to come out in September. The new songs were in the same vein as their other fast songs, which worried me a bit. It’s good stuff, but I’d like to hear some more of the diversity that was displayed on Everynight Fire Works.

The set ended with the catchy “Our Weekend Starts on Wednesday,” but bowing to the shouts of the crowd, they came back out for an encore performance, with the slow and epic “Quit,” followed by a fabulous rendition of “Let’s Go Blue,” where Nanna inserted a rather odd but humorous rant about Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Thus ended an awesome show with three good bands and one decent band for a darn good price of $10. I’ll be first in line when Hey Mercedes returns to Boston in the fall.