The Plain White T’s perfectly fit their name to, well, a “T”. No glitter or glam, bells, whistles or anything else to zest up their live act. And judging from the screaming tween girls swarming the front row, that’s just the way they like them.
Toronto’s The Sea Inside and rising Buffalo popsters, Cute Is What We Aim For opened with similar danceable tunes. CWWAF are currently on tour with PWT’s as support for Fall Out Boy as lead cutie Shaant quickly pointed out how small the stage seemed after just playing Madison Square Gardens the previous night. Impressing no one, Shaant went on to compare the experience like “playing the ACC but 100 times cooler.” Ouch. That didn’t win him any fans either. The Sea Inside’s vocalist, Cali, faired much better with “thanks for listening to songs you don’t even know.” Hopefully they gained some new fans.
As Avril’s “Happy Ending” faded out to just the young female fans continuing to sing the chorus, the PWT’s unassumingly took to the stage and led right into the “oh oh oh oh oh” of “Our Time Now”, which set the tone for the night.
This is “their” time, all the young wide eyed hopefuls of tomorrow searching for what we all want. Love. Tom Higgerson’s teen angst laid lyrics ooze into melodic guitar chords and three sometimes four part harmonies. Sure some of the hooks are predictable and songs like “So Damn Clever” and “You and Me” are a little simple but the kids love it.
Simplicity perfectly describes their latest single “Hate (I Really Don’t Like You)” as everyone joined in the repetitive chorus “Hate is a strong word but I really, really, really don’t like you.” Or the tongue and cheek of “Friends Don’t Let Friends Dial Drunk” with the catchy “you only call me after you have a few”. Both reflect the heartache and confusion of first loves and emotional teenage turmoil, all rolled into a nice upbeat bouncy melody.
There is no doubt that the PWT’s have similarities to other pop punk bands like Canada’s Simple Plan, who they toured with earlier and Tom commented on “how incredibly nice those guys are.” I think what sets them apart and will probably take them further are some of Tom’s plain and simple acoustic love songs. Introducing “Write You A Song” as “the next Delilah” which seeps the same love sick sentiment is very insightful.
But the highlight for me came from an older song requested by one diehard fan(maybe the one who drove from PWT’s hometown of Chicago) to hear “Radio’s In Heaven”. This gorgeous balled accompanied with just a whisper of instrumentals showcased the harmonious vocals of Dave Tirio(guitar), Mike Retondo(bass), Tim Lopez(guitar) and even drummer, De’Mar Hamilton.
Sticking to their basic layout, the encore was just as predictable with the crowd drowning them out on pretty much the whole “Hey There Delilah” rendition. Higgenson did offer up a shout out to another Canadian pop group, Moneen, who stopped in as the PWT’s left us with “Take Me Away”.
Writer: Lisa Kerr