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Exceptional indie rock chops,
but overrated as entertainers

Arctic Monkeys
Riviera Theatre
Chicago, IL
May 8, 2007
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Story and photos by Andy Argyrakis

Sometimes a band can blow up too quickly for its own good, which some would say happened to the Arctic Monkeys upon the release of 2005's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Domino). Between internet buzz and positive hipster press, the young Sheffield guys literally became overnight superstars and were greeted in America with the indie equivalent of Beatlemania. The positive news stems from the fact that the band continues making solid music two years later, turning in the equally impressive Favourite Worst Nightmare (Domino) last month, mixing snarling garage rock, danceable bass lines and ballsy riffs all across the board.

When the boys brought both discs to the Riviera Theatre, there was no denying the foursome's raucous talent, especially considering their sonic evolution between a somewhat loose but infectious breakout band to a finely tightened cohesive unit. Tunes from both discs pummeled with aggressive insistence, from the early insurgence of "Still Take You Home" and "Dancing Shoes" to the midpoint apexes "You Probably Couldn't See The Lights But You Were Looking Straight At Me" and "D Is for Dangerous."

As expected, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" earned the most fanfare, but considering it was pushed endlessly on alternative radio a mere year ago, it was far from a surprise. However, the sold out crowd was almost as keen on current cuts, such as the supercharged "Old Yellow Bricks" and "Fluorescent Adolescent." In that regard, it seems like the Arctic Monkeys have officially beat the sophomore slump and could quite possibly develop with longevity, especially considering members have the chops to back up the buzz.

However, the lighting fast speed at which these twenty-somethings rose to global recognition has also been a hindrance in one regard. Despite the magnetic sounds the gang is able to weave, its stage presence follows in a distant shadow, conjuring up a clammy shyness at worst and a contrived attempt for attitude at best. Front man Alex Turner is a dynamic vocalist, but aside from regularly repeating a series of lighting fast strums, he's still lacking in the personality department. His supporting cast also lacked the charisma to truly let loose, which again could come from the relatively new status or perhaps a preference to turn in a rough and tumble outpourings in the studio. Even so, that's really the only hurdle the band has to overcome in what's otherwise destined to be a musically daring and consistently dependable brand of gusty rock n' roll that blasts through mainstream mediocrity.

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