For their first show ever as a band, Rob Montague and the Flat Earth Society certainly looked pretty polished. This past Wednesday, the group took the stage at the House of Blues Cambridge Room, supported by Downplay and Silverlights.
Those in attendance got a chance to celebrate a return in action for several members of the band. Montague, the group’s primary songwriter and vocalist, hadn’t performed on stage for at least three years, and his guitarists Keith Fewell and Bob Uhoda ended prolonged absences with this show as well. The weeks of practice certainly paid off, as the band powered through their set of fist-pumping, anthemic songs.
With the PA’s power humming, the band took the stage to the sound of the Terminator theme, which led well into the first song “I Want More”, a powerful and pulsating song on the instrumental side, coupled with soaring vocals. Throughout the first part of the set, the band did well to replicate the sound of Farewell Song, with the presence of dual guitars from Fewell and Uhoda giving the songs an extra dose of gravitas not quite felt on the studio recordings. In addition, the rhythm section of Tommy Haywood (drums) and Andrew “Ogre” Lenthe (bass) proved particularly punishing – loud, heavy, powerful.
Fewell was the band member who had been away from the stage the longest, as he last performed in concert back in ’96. Perhaps most impressively, he had no problem performing a demanding role on stage singing backing vocals while playing lead and rhythm guitar parts. Fewell’s vocals matched up well with Montague on the harmonies in “Falling Away” and “Brand New Day”.
Downplay, from Columbus Ohio, played a powerful set of their own in support of Rob Montague on the night. The band has a sound reminiscent of Breaking Benjamin, with style and moves that would be at home at any large, arena-type venue. Frontman Dustin Bates showed his impressive vocal range, accenting melodic vocals with falsetto highs and screamed punctuation points. Songs from the band’s album Beyond the Machine sprang to life. The band showed supreme stage presence, honed over the years and perfected at 2011’s Rock on the Range at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Downplay recently finished recording their major-label debut for Epic Records, which featured the song “Where Did You Go?” which was co-written by Rob Montague and Bates. Strangely, the band was dropped by that label only a few months after completing the album, but they managed to secure a showcase for Warner Bros. this coming February. Bates extended an invitation to everyone in attendance to make the trip to Columbus on Feb. 4, offering free tickets to anyone willing to make the drive. After seeing the band live, any fan of rock music would have a hard time convincing themselves not to help this band out – they rock, and with the way the music industry is skewed towards pop and hip hop today, we need more rock! (At least, rock fans like you and me..)
Silverlights was the first band of the night, led by singer-songwriter Nathan Hedges. The group played a short set of airy, easygoing alternative rock songs with clean guitar riffs and finely-tuned vocal melodies. Silverlights eased the attendees into the evening well, though they hardly could be considering to be a heavy alternative rock band. In all, a fun night was had by everyone who made it out to the House of Blues!
Rob Montague and the Flat Earth Society Setlist
Intro: Terminator Theme
1. I Want More
2. Falling Away
3. And She Said Hello
4. The Always Moving Forever (Acoustic)
5. Thank You
6. Brand New Day
7. Scrapbook (Where Did You Go)
8. (a capella Happy Birthday song for Rob, led by guitarist Bob Uhoda)
9. Hands Open (Snow Patrol cover)