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Looking back on my concert experience this past week, I got to thinking about how good Phantom Planet was when they opened for PATD. I’ve noticed, in my large (and sometimes sordid) history with going to rock concerts, that at times the opening bands are as enjoyable, if not more so, than the headliner themselves.

The most blatant example of this in my past has been a couple of years ago at the Vegoose Festival in Las Vegas, NV, when I saw a little band called The Killers open up for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I by FAR enjoyed The Killers more than Tom Petty, and it wasn’t just because Brendon Flowers, the lead singer of The Killers, was wearing an enchanting mix of strange little black tie and bright blue blazer (though it didn’t hurt).

Live photo shot by yours truly of Brendon Flowers

No joke, this was actually the outfit he wore during the concert. I shot this myself. Awesome.

I went to go see Matt Costa perform at a really awesome SF venue called Slim’s last month (http://www.slims-sf.com/). The opening act for Matt was a band I had never heard of called Delta Spirit. I was dubious at first because of the name of the band (it sounds kind of like a hippie-dippy band that should be performing at a coffee shop or a sit-in somewhere, right?), but they rocked it. Sort of Bob Dylan-meets-Nirvana, complete with a lead singer wearing that headgear-looking apparatus that lets you play the harmonica without having to use your hands (you know what I’m talking about. What is that thing called? Does it even have a name? It always looks sort of uncomfortable and sado-masochistic to me). They had a really raw, painful sound that lent itself well to the folk music they played.

A band called The Honorary Title opened up for Mae at Slim’s last Tuesday. I had already known who The Honorary Title was and loved their music (I highly recommend the album Scream and Light Up the Sky, especially the tracks “Apologize”, “Thin Layer”, “Stuck at Sea”, and “Far More”), and so went to this concert actually only to see the opening act.

Maybe the appeal in the opening act is that they always seem to put themselves out there fully, like they have nothing to lose. And maybe they don’t. They’re usually still trying to prove themselves at the opening act point, and feel like they have to go all out to get noticed. Maybe it’s the feeling like you’re discovering something new and unknown, something secret that no one else knows about, someone just about to make it big and you’re catching them on their upward trajectory. That’s how I felt when I saw the Killers. And when I started wearing Levi’s Capital-E Jeans before the big green-conscious trend caught on (it’s true–i swear).

Or maybe it’s that sometimes that the headlining band is sometimes too complacent in their position as the most successful act on the ticket. While this definitely wasn’t true with Panic, it was definitely the case with Tom Petty. Someone as old-hat as Mr Petty sometimes seem to be going through the motions instead of actually trying with their whole heart to put on a good show. Yes, Tom is a wee bit past the age of spry youth, but if the Rolling Stones still can rock it, why can’t he?

For now I will stick with buying my Delta Spirit and Honorary TItle records and see them whenever they come to town. If that means I have to see some lame headliner in the process, so be it.

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