Despite the uncharacteristically cold late March air, a massive line of rabid fans braved the almost freezing temperatures in Williamsburg last night to see Australian pop-rock outfit the Temper Trap. The surprisingly young (and heavily female) audience came to Music Hall of Williamsburg expecting Dougy Mandagi's soaring falsetto, the band's stellar mix of pop hooks and post-punk sonic ambition, and most importantly, undiluted fan. The Temper Trap delivered. Even the opening act, New York's own Penguin Prison seemed to bowl over the crowd for this sold-out show. The Temper Trap are back again tonight for another sold-out performance so their American fanbase is only continuing to expand.
Opener Penguin Prison can best be described as a cross between the dance rock of LCD Soundsystem and the disco revival of the Rapture. While I personally found his "dance-punk" to be a little on the shallow end of the pool and heaped with plenty of shameless cheese, the audience was devouring it, and all of the women in attendance seemed to be swooning over him nearly as much as Dougy Mandagi. He certainly didn't lack for charisma. Dropping down into the audience several times to sing and play guitar, lead singer Chris Glover has the good looks and stage presence to be indie pop's response to Adam Levine. I certainly could have used a little more bite and nuance to his music, but when the packed house seemed to so strongly disagree with me, perhaps it just wasn't my cup of tea.
When the Temper Trap came on, it taught me a valuable lesson about what happens when you combine hook-driven and anthemic pop-rock with a lead singer that is one of indie rock's true heartthrobs. The women in attendance simply lose it like Chris Martin was standing before them belting out Coldplay's greatest hits. The Temper Trap's music was great. Their sonic textures and complex arrangements translated live well, and Dougy Mandagi has one of the best male voices in the business. However, what I'll always remember about this night was the simultaneous melting hearts of almost every single woman around me (and I was in the third row so these women were feeling the full effect of his charm). Gyrating his hips, breaking into extended percussion sessions on his mini-drum kit, and wielding his voice like a rapier, shifting up and down over a several octave range like he was a male Adele.
The hour long set featured plenty of new songs, though they were as engaging as any of the material from Conditions so we don't understand why Mandagi kept apologizing when they performed new material. Their newest album, the self-titled The Temper Trap, comes out in May so this show gave fans plenty to look forward to. The old material was as lovely as we remembered though, and "Sweet Disposition," proved to be as powerful as the first time we heard it scoring the romance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer. The most rewarding moment of the night though was the nearly ten minute long jam session that accompanied the final song of the set before the encore, which reached an almost Grateful-Dead-level of jam band bliss.
Check out this exclusive footage we have of the band performing in the Guest Apartment if you want even more of their uplifting Aussie pop.