Review: Battleme, Penguin Prison, and Neon Trees @ Showbox at the Market 7/27
There’s something to say for all ages shows, especially when these shows happen to fall on a Friday night in the middle of summer. As the venue filled to capacity, it was impossible to not get a contact high from the excitement buzzing around the floor. These high school students and college freshmen (based on the survey I took from the people around me in line) were doing something right- they were flat out excited to be at this show and were there to enjoy the night from start to finish. This is where all ages shows have something over 21+ shows. At an all ages show, of course you’re going to get to the venue at doors, pack the floor, and enjoy all the bands on the bill. At 21+ shows, openers are usually ignored in favor of the bar. So at this show, opening acts Battleme and Penguin Prison benefited as much as Neon Trees on this Friday night.
Battleme from Portland isn’t an opener I expected for a pop-electronic band like Neon Trees. Being of the harder rock persuasion, this band brought the noise to the Showbox- filling the room with rock that probably inspired at least a few people in the audience to pick up a guitar. Front man Matt Drenik put his falsetto voice to good use, hitting the high notes just right during songs like ‘Woman, I’m a Lost Cause.’ Battleme’s songs may not have been what this crowd was expecting, but they certainly had grown to enjoy it by a few songs into the set. Around the venue, kids shook their hips to the beat as Drenik and his bandmates pounded their instruments. This band has something special that sets it apart from others in the PNW- they start hard and finish hard without any hesitation between songs, and as Drenik struts around the stage it’s impossible not to be reminded of a different era, one where rockstars reigned supreme. On nights like this one, it was great to see a new generation of music fans be introduced to rock and roll, courtesy of Battleme.
Penguin Prison was the second opener of the evening. This band is a stark contrast to Battleme, but was the perfect lead in for Neon Trees. Electronically twinged, Penguin Prison was perfect for this upbeat crowd who came to the Showbox to dance. And, dance they did. Around the venue there didn’t seem to be an immobile body to be seen. The high energy, pop-electronic music was light, easy to enjoy, and all around fun. If Battleme was responsible for representing the 70s, Penguin Prison did their best to play the sort of music that would have been welcomed with open arms in the 80s.
The crowd had already done several hours of dancing, but Neon Trees was greeted with such excitement you’d have thought that they had just gotten here. The Showbow was absolutely packed from wall to wall with sweaty fans, smiles plastered on their faces. While Neon Trees may have only recently become well known in the area, the audience seemed to know every word to the songs in the set. What really struck me was the front man, Tyler Glenn, and his fever pitched performance. Glenn is an animal onstage, which is fitting considering their biggest hit today is appropriately called ‘Animal.’ Armed with a glowing mic stand, he has everyone in the crowd dancing as fiercely as possible thanks to their high energy songs. It was a perfect show for a warm summer night, and the fans were left happily satisfied with their pop drenched evening.