Many Bay Area music fans may not yet be familiar with Brooklyn prog-rockers Fang Island, being that the trio made just its second San Francisco stopover, Tuesday at the Great American Music Hall, since releasing a debut album in 2010.
But anyone looking for a happier, less paranoid take on Muse should give a listen to Fang Island’s sophomore album Major. Like Muse, Fang Island specialize in grand, over-the-top music statements – from anthemic guitars, neoclassical piano flourishes and sing-alongs to lyrics not yet widely known.
Additionally, there are some Afropop influences, and while the vocals of singer-guitarists Jason Bartell and Chris Georges are not as grand and operatic as Matt Bellamy’s, that only makes the songs more relatable. This band is Muse by way of Vampire Weekend.
Tuesday night the trio, which includes drummer Marc St. Sauveur, was backed by a third guitarist and a bassist. The five blasted through an hour-long performance that included the highlights of Major, as well as their 2010 self-titled debut. The tight set – no songs felt like concert filler – featured song-after-song that for other acts would be strategically placed as a show opener, main set closer or encore material. This fit with previous band comments about not making fans wait for songs they want to hear.
Bartell, who handled the majority of the lead vocal duties spoke little between songs. When he did, he acknowledged “our minds are a little melted” following a 14-hour drive, during which time the musicians listened to every Pink Floyd record in chronological order.
Less talking meant more confident, enthusiastic and bombastic songs.
El Paso math-rockers Zechs Marquise opened the show. The band includes two brothers of the Mars Volta frontman Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. The quintet delivered a technically-sound, but not always entertaining set of songs sans vocals.
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