Photos by Emily Garcia
PHILADELPHIA — Showing up to a sparsely crowded venue on a quiet Sunday night (quiet by Philadelphia standards) can evoke some awkward feelings, but no matter the quantity of people or the quality of the band, when the music starts those feelings subside. Static Jacks at the North Star Bar on Sept. 22 was one of those Sunday nights.
An indie rock band from New Jersey, the Static Jacks are infused with Vampire Weekend and The Shins influences with some raw potential. Their brand new album “In Blue” contains the kind of indie rock that you find yourself humming along and makes you warm and pleasant on the inside. Their live show however, accomplishes neither.
As the five men were clad in plenty of floral and shiny shoes, I expected to be transported to a field of flowers on a warm sunny day. Either because it was a small room with a small crowd, or because they haven’t hit their performance stride yet, it felt more like being transported to a patch of weeds on a slightly overcast day. Not to say the Static Jacks were bad. Without listening to the album first, their performance would have been on par, but their album greatly exhibits the capabilities they lack on stage. Individually, each musician was clearly talented but the sum of the parts was greater than the whole. They almost appeared to be bored, stagnant. “In Blue” is a dynamic album, which did not translate in their performance.
One shining moment of the set, however, was “Wallflower.” Debatably the best song on the album that has recently been made into a music video, energy and passion came out of nowhere, radiating through their pastel apparel. This one moment made it widely apparent that they have what it takes.
The opening bands were an interesting treat for a perpetual music explorer. Flagship, from North Carolina, had seven people and a large, full ambient sound. Their instrumentals and electronics blended together into a swirl of warm and comforting yet experimental sounds. Emotion poured out of their set and wrapped itself around each person in the room. The next band, The Black Stars, were an interesting, very drunken mess of groovy rock. Stumbling around stage, laying on the ground and hanging all over the mic, the lead singer owned the stage in his own unique way. Although it wasn’t the tightest performance, there was a lot of heart and passion in it. Each member looked as if they were having the time of their life, which is exactly what any musician should be doing. Their groovy rock jams livened up the place, filling it with the uninhibited energy that the Static Jacks were lacking.
Making music in a band comes with two responsibilities: good albums and good shows. Static Jacks are halfway there with a low-fi indie album they can take far as long as they amp up their performance abilities. The North Star Bar has a history of hosting bands before they sit their stride. For example, 21 pilots played there last November and opened for Fallout Boy at the Liacouras Center less than a year later. If Static Jacks put in the time and energy, they could easily find themselves in a similar circumstance, on a not-so-similar stage.