Review: Theme Park

@The Haunt, Brighton, 13/3/2013

There is a certain amount of leeway allowed for pop bands and their live shows. Sure the songs might not stand the test of time or inspire a generation to give up meat or become raging socialists, but if you’re live show is fun and engaging then what’s the harm done? Take CSS for example who, despite a brilliant début, have had a shaky run of albums since the glory days of the mid-noughties but are generally tolerated because of the carnival enthusiasm and charming humour in their live performances.

It is in this context that Theme Park failed so miserably that you’d struggle to remember the show the following week, let alone a month or a year later. After possibly the most prosaic entrance by a headlining band I’ve ever seen (a few ripples of applause the only notable indication that they had arrived on stage) they whipped straight into their a-typical indie-pop lite for the young girls and boys who eagerly awaited them. It was at that first note that it all became a dreary blur.

The main problem was that nearly every song has the same rhythm, the same tempo and the same sounds. There was very little distinction and an overwhelming feeling of going through the motions. Another hour of the same non-descript 120 bpm drum beat and a phone call to Amnesty International to report cruelty to drummers would have been needed. The band members themselves were just as indistinguishable as was their interlude patter. The few snippets of interaction mechanically informed the audience whether the next song was an old b-side or which end of the album the song resides. For a band who have named themselves after the very embodiment of excitement, adrenaline, thrills and happiness, they seem to have the joy sapped right out of them.

Perhaps the repetition got to them in the end. There were notable mistakes, a poorly executed guitar solo, harmonies falling flat and not a whiff of stage presence, they effectively limped rather than skipped their way to the finishing line. Whilst not a completely flat gig, there were momentary highs on ‘Jamaica’ and catchy single ‘Tonight’ however the momentum and excitement never pulled through. Like the Hollyoaks of indie bands; good for passive consumption but little else.

Words: Woodrow Whyte