We Were Promised Jetpacks hail from the stormy, windswept moors of Scotland, and while their music initially reflected that, sounding similar to countrymen & labelmates like The Twilight Sad (QRO live review) and Frightened Rabbit (QRO live review) on 2009 debut These Four Walls (QRO review), they’ve since evolved. The group came across the pond to Hudson River Park’s Pier 84 (QRO venue review) in New York behind last year’s Unravelling (QRO review) on Thursday, July 23rd, for RiverRocks.
RiverRocks hold three free concerts on Pier 84, but the first one on July 9th was unfortunately shut down by thunder and lightning – that’s what can cause a show out on the water to get cancelled. Thankfully the weather was perfect on the 23rd (WWPJ didn’t bring any Scottish skies with them), sunny but not too hot for post-punk openers Krill (QRO photos).
But it still felt stormy when We Were Promised Jetpacks began after the sun went down, thanks to the slow burn of opener “I Keep It Composed” from Unravelling. The set was roughly balanced between Unravelling, These Four Walls, and in between record In the Pit of the Stomach (QRO review). Unravelling songs like “Composed” and “Peace Sign” played relatively low-key when compared to the post-rock emotional power of earlier pieces like “Human Error”, “Moving Clocks Run Slow”, “Quiet Little Voices”, “Boy In the Backseat”, and others. The band also both went into their encore break with a Walls track, “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning” (maybe they didn’t want to tempt gods like Zeus & Thor by playing it earlier…), and closed the night out with Walls’ “Short Bursts”.
Usually acts from the north of England or Scotland are pretty funny live, with their brogue and normally dirty humour, but WWPJ didn’t banter much, only joking about playing next to the giant U.S.S. Intrepid aircraft carrier-turned-museum in the next berth. They did defy the house music when it came on (that’s invariably the sign that ‘the party is over’) to do an encore.
We Were Promised Jetpacks next play a much smaller (and not free) venue, Mercury Lounge (QRO venue review), this Thursday (QRO photos), which the Thursday after that RiverRocks returns to close out its season with Yuck and U.S. Girls (QRO NYC Show Preview). But it was great to catch this show in the open air.