Photos by G.
It pains me to write nasty things about bands because I am of the belief that even if you don’t enjoy the music, you can find something about the band you liked. This was not the case seeing derivative Chicago rock band Smith Westerns. On November 1, 2010, Florence and the Machine played an amazing show at New York’s Terminal 5. Prior to that, Smith Westerns nearly bored the audience to death. Before I get into talking about their music, let me tell you about the personality of the band. I met them prior to their set and with the exception of their drummer, they are the most unfriendly band I’ve EVER encountered. Yes, that’s right. Let’s not forget that I’ve met bands that have sold out stadiums across the globe and they were more polite than Smith effing Westerns!
As the band was unloading their gear, I asked each member individually for a photo. The bass player ignored me entirely. The guitarist told me “not now.” The drummer just shrugged his shoulders (but later apologized) and the lead singer said “I don’t look good.” Ironically, he wore the exact same outfit on stage (to perform in front of several thousand people) and looked the same as when I met him. They went to get more gear from their van and refused me a second time and then a little while later, they took a smoke break and refused me a THIRD time! I figured, this band is probably the second coming of Jesus to have egos that large, so even though I was extremely annoyed, I was certainly going to listen to their set without prejudice.
I have to tell you, they sucked so bad! None of their songs were catchy. The lead singer not only kept his eyes shut for most of the performance, but he didn’t say ANYTHING to the crowd in between songs. Bob Dylan, who is notorious for not speaking to the audience said more when I saw him perform last year than Smith Westerns! Bob Dylan, Smith Westerns. You do the math! As the band finished their set, a mild smattering of applause was given and without saying “good night,” “thank you for being a great audience,” “up next is Florence and the Machine” or any other types of things a band would say before departing, they just put their instruments down and walked off the stage. To my amusement, the loudest applause they received all night was as they were exiting.
I thought I was being overly critical at first because I had such a horrible experience meeting the band, but I watched the general admission floor from the balcony as the crowd stopped paying attention to the concert and went back to having conversations and text messaging instead of watching the show. I asked many people in the crowd what they thought of The Smith Westerns and unanimously, everyone disliked their set – A LOT! I am sure the band will see this review (because this is likely to be the only review they get for this show) so boys, let me give you a few lessons in Rock and Roll from someone that has seen well over 100 shows this year and has met most of the people who performed: You never know who you are going to meet – they could turn out to be reviewers, they could turn out to be just casual fans, so as a general rule – BE NICE to people you meet. I can surely take the rejection, but you can scar a fan for life by being a jerk to them, and these are the people that put money in your pocket! Be THANKFUL someone wanted to have their picture with you. If I would have seen them after the show, I definitely would NOT have wasted my time asking for a picture. I gave them the benefit of the doubt before the show. They are the only opening act I’ve EVER met who refused to take a photo with me. I completely understand that nobody owes me anything, but are they really delusional to think they’ve earned the right to not be nice to fans? With the exception of the drummer, they are definitely the most unpersonable band I’ve ever met. Shall I also mention that in a crowd of 500 people, Lady Gaga, who is arguably the biggest star in the world right now, was extremely nice to her fans and in a crowd of 1 person (me being that one person), the Smith Westerns were total pricks! I can only hope they paid attention to the crowd reaction which might help bring their egos back down to earth. Getting a positive review on Pitchfork Media does not guarantee career success. Finally, if you are catching Florence and the Machine on November 2, 2010 let me suggest you schedule a 45 minute long bathroom break during Smith Westerns set.