This is my review of the Atomic Tom – Halloween Weekend show at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA on 10-29-11. This was our (my wife and my) 3rd Atomic Tom concert at Jammin’ Java and each one has been a truly unique experience and completely worth the ticket price and more each time.
We got to the show around 9:00 to be sure to get a good spot on the floor. We had donned our Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers costumes as Luke had posted previously on Facebook that costumes were encouraged.
Each time we’ve seen Atomic Tom we’ve enjoyed a different opening act. The opening act for this particular show was Bronze Radio Return, a six member group out of Hartford, CT. I would probably describe their music as Indie Americana Roots Folk Rock. Their sound is a mix of Ray LaMontagne, Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, John Fogerty, and The Byrds. Their full setlist included a few songs from each of their albums.
We really liked this band a lot – enough to buy their latest CD, Shake, Shake Shake, after the show and then picked up their first full length album, Old Time Speaker online when we got home.
The highlight of their performance was their eclectic garbage can assortment percussion intro and performance of their song “It’s OK Now”.
They’ve got a 4 track sample of their latest album for free on noisetrade – http://noisetrade.com/bronzeradioreturn
After a short break for Bronze Radio Return to break down their setup and reset the Atomic Tom stage the lights dimmed and by now the place had gotten packed. The guys made their way out on stage and gave us the first treat of this Halloween show – costumes! Phil (bassist) was dressed as a prince, Tobias (drums) was dressed in a beautiful full length single strap – diaphanous gown and wig, Eric (lead guitar) was ‘El Mustachio’ – the Indian Chief (I’ve nicknamed “Chief ImGonnaRockYaSoxOff”), and Luke (lead vocals+) was dressed as Eric? or Freddie Mercury? (maybe he’ll comment on what he envisioned his costume being). It was great.
The band opened with the title track off their similarly titled album “The Moment“. They moved on to their first release off their new EP In Parallel entitled “Break My Heart Around You”. If you haven’t seen the official video for this song, check out the NY love story of the lead character Mr. Paper Bag. Being Halloween Luke was tossing out candy between many of the songs into the audience. “You Always Get What You Want” was next, and by now the crowd was singing along and jumping. They moved directly into the iconic “Red Light Warning Sign”. The band started easing into an acoustic set with the next two songs “Play That Dirty Girl” and “We Were Never Meant To Be”. It seemed like the audience (as always at Jammin’ Java) knew most of the songs and were singing along to every one – I know we were.
The middle portion of the set was the next treat of the evening – slowed down acoustic set with my favorite song off The Moment – “Maybe I’m Wrong” and “Valerie”(a cover of late label mate Amy Winehouse).
The band kicked up the tempo again with my wife’s favorite song from The Moment – “Let, Let Go Tonight”. This rolled straight into the new song “Collide”. After some banter during which Tobias asked the audience if we thought he was a pretty the band played “I’m Coming After You”. The next song got everyone really moving – their cover of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby” from the soundtrack for the movie “Take Me Home Tonight”.
The only trick of the evening was that the band did not close out with their typical finishing song “This is How We Like to End”. We pulled out our iPod lighter apps to sway along to this awesome ballad. From there they closed out with possibly their most well known song – “Take Me Out”(from their viral YouTube video using iPhones on the NY subway fame). They ended this one slowing it down to acoustic, then had a sing off between wo halves of the audience with our side singing “I don’t wanna go – I don’t wanna go home” and the other side singing “Oh oh Oh oh oh oh”. It was a great close to the show, or so we thought.
The final treat of the evening came after the audience called the band back on stage with a chorus of the “Oh oh Oh oh oh oh’s” and they band played a rare cover of Van Halen’s “Right Now”. I’ve included the video of that performance here.
It was a truly epic show and I was expecting the band to be a little tired from their recently concluded national tour with Switchfoot and Anberlin, but they killed this show and brought such energy to what Luke refers to as a ‘home’ crowd in Virginia. You can see some more photos from the show on their Facebook page here, including our picture with the band. The full setlist is also posted on setlist.fm as well.
Finally here is a Halloween greeting from the band (you may have to ‘Like’ Atomic Tom on Facebook to see this, but you were gonna do that anyway, right? 😉 ). We actually had to drive two hours through a snow storm to get to the show. It was totally worth it! Thanks, guys, for an awesome show and for hanging out with your fans after each show – you guys are the best!