These four scruffy young roustabouts boast enough technical prowess to weave all the folk, dance and punk influences they please into their searing indie-rock stylings.
When these guys showed up onstage all wearing ties, I should have known they meant business. Paper Lions are cracking musicians, marrying catchy, shout-along pop with madcap showmanship. They have been nominated for multiple ECMAs; it's only a matter of time before the rest of the country starts to notice.
If there's one thing Paper Lions can do, it's work a stage. There were handclaps, "hey!"s, looping pedals, guitarists playing the cymbals with their headstocks, hand drumming on a kit, rock kicks, and a drum solo that used four sticks at once. That was just during the first song. These dudes could have just bowed and left right there, and it still would have been the set of the evening. Thankfully, they stuck around.
At their most raucous, the band kicked out some deft, angular post-punk jams perfectly suited to guitar-beating and microphone-dashing. Their sky-high skill level allowed them to take some gleefully high-wire risks — like breaking into a few bars of "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the middle of one of their songs, cooing in four-part a capella harmony and then ripping out the heavy riffs. They later pulled out the barbershop harmonies on a mid-set foray into the middle of the crowd, strumming guitars and mandolins and demanding sing-alongs on an indelible "la-da-da" chorus.
They can sing, they can write songs, they can pull off a bitchin' Queen cover with all the technical panache it requires, and they can get a tuckered-out 1:30 a.m. crowd moving, clapping, and singing in three-part harmony with no effort at all. Those of you who went home in the blizzard to sleep or shovel your driveways have no idea what you missed.
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