The Metro found itself hosting a crowd full of twenty-somethings from the U.S. for the last date of State Radio’s European tour on Friday night. If there’s one thing to like about a gig packed with Americans, it’s that they are so up for it. Whereas your English audience might stand expressionless, arms folded across their chests, as if to say ‘Come on: impress me,’ American crowds are cheerful, energetic, and forgiving. And this crowd was really excited about State Radio.
The trio from Massachusetts have a lot of presence on stage. Frontman Chad Urmston is a cute skateboarder kinda guy with Vedder-esque corkscrew curls and a voice that isn’t wholly unlike the Pearl Jam rocker’s either. The band’s mixture of ska and RATM-style hard rock sounds like it would be very at home on a beach in Cali or as the soundtrack to an ‘extreme snowboarding’ DVD.
The trouble with ska is that when a rock band tries to do it, it can all end up sounding pretty much the same. And the trouble with guitar-driven hard rock is that it can seem a bit repetitive too. Put the two together and it all comes across a bit schizophrenic. A few catchy slower tunes relying on vocals, melodies and trademark political lyrics relieved the trend towards monotony, but as the set wore on, each song began to feel reminiscent of the one before.
The band was clearly popular with the audience though, and they definitely excel at anthems, several tunes resulting in enthusiastic singalongs. It’s a specialised sound for a niche market, but State Radio have got it down to a T and bring truckloads of charisma to the proceedings as well. Sadly, a crowd full of Londoners probably wouldn’t have been impressed enough to uncross their arms.
State Radio’s new album Us Against the Crown was released on 4th September, 2006 and the band hope to return to the UK in February. In the meantime if this review has left you itching to find out more, you can watch a webcast of their recent gig in Amsterdam online here.