Live Review

Real Estate, Bowery Ballroom, NY

Like the boy next door, they face the challenge of standing out from the crowd.

Real Estate

open their show with an extended wordless jam, complete with intertwining guitar lines. It’s a wonderfully surprising opening for a band that the press often describes in terms of pop-song construction. This description, regardless of the band’s musically heady opening, is duly earned.

Live, it’s easy to picture Real Estate playing alone in the garage next door, despite their apparent pop song-craft. One example: The drummer self-consciously spins his drumsticks during their second song of the evening, unable to refrain from the 80s music video mimic. The boy-next-door impression works for the band, but could threaten their longevity.

Throughout their show, the group maintain a solid variety of pop nuggets and lengthier songs sharing a distant kinship with the more subdued qualities of Cymbals Eat Guitars. Songs like ‘Green River’ and ‘Black Lake’ don’t shy away from acknowledging the band’s home base, the great state of New Jersey, and playing these takes some guts in the city of New York. Their every-boy approach is reinforced by song lyrics like “I sell shit on the phone, ‘cause I don’t want to live at home.” There’s an underdog quality to the group that is easy to identify with. Who hasn’t had, or thought about getting, a shitty job just to get out of the house?

It is a treat when, midway through the show, Girls front man Christopher Owens guests on tambourine. This is followed by ‘Atlantic City’, a quick encapsulation of Real Estate’s ability to pack a punch into a two-minute pop song. There’s a certain quality to most of their music that, even at its punchiest, makes for good beach music. This is exemplified by the band’s closer, and highlight of their set, ‘Beach Comber’, which rests on a pleasantly descending guitar riff.

Overall Real Estate face a quandary: They craft songs with an easy familiarity, but this recognition could prove problematic. Like the boy next door, they face the challenge of standing out from the crowd.

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