Concert Review: Topshelf Tour Featuring Field Mouse, Prawn, Diamond Youth, and A Great Big Pile of Leaves

September 27, 2014: The Pike Room, Pontiac

Having a lot of love for Prawn’s newest album, Kingfisher, I couldn’t really miss the chance to see them live. I made a note to pick up tickets, putting it off until I had some extra cash but between Chill on the Hill and getting sick, I managed to forget about when the show was. Thankfully I checked my concert list a few days before and saw that the show was coming up and tickets weren’t sold out. I was excited to get to see the entire roster for the first annual Topshelf Tour from Topshelf Records.

They were running a bit behind when I got to the Pike Room in Pontiac, thankfully the weather was nice so it was great to get extra time outside while we waited to be let in. I got in, checked out the merch, and snagged a spot near the wall so I could have something to lean against between sets. First band up was Field Mouse, which just happened to be the 100th band that I’ve gotten to see live in 2014. I had heard a few songs from the band but other than that didn’t know too much about them. I knew that number 100 was going to be a good one when the notes of “A Place You Return To In A Dream” started to drift from the guitars to where I was standing. It only got better once they played “Tomorrow is Yesterday”. Suddenly I was transported back to the 90’s with it’s killer bass line, dreary vocals, and overall grungy goodness. Their entire set was from their newest album, Hold Still Life, which I’m really enjoying as I listen to it now.

Prawn was up next and I couldn’t wait to hopefully hear all my favorites from Kingfisher live. I wasn’t disappointed when the set was kicked off with the album’s first track “Scud Running”. I allowed myself get swept up in the moment, ignoring the notes I was making. The guys sound great live, the only thing they were missing were the horns and while that would have been nice to hear, I didn’t miss them. Personally my favorite live moments were hearing “First as Tragedy, Second as Farce” and “Absurd Walls” which just might be my favorite tracks off the album now that I’ve heard them live. Can’t wait for Prawn to come back, hopefully with a full set next time.

I didn’t know much about Diamond Youth either before the show but noticed that they had quite a few fans in the audience so I was interested to see what they would add to the already stellar line up. The first thing singer Justin Gilman did when he got on stage was point to the empty area directly in front of the stage and ask “What’s this” before motioning for the crowd to come closer. I already liked these guys. Diamond Youth kicked the set off with the opening track from their newest EP, Shake, “Red Water”. Gilman’s voice is very remniscent of Josh Homme’s (Queen of the Stone Age) but the Baltimore quartet have their own style. Their set was a lot of fun and they bring a lot of energy to the stage which helped to get everyone ready for the main act.

I struggle now to remember a whole lot from the first time I saw A Great Big Pile of Leaves back in February. What I do remember is that I really enjoyed their set and so seeing them again was a must, especially on a night where I felt fully rested and ready for a night of great tunes.

The great thing about AGBPOL’s music is that it’s got a laid back quality to it which is exactly what I wanted to finish out my evening. I managed to get a table by the time they took the stage and even though I was near the back of the venue, it still felt very intimate. The small crowd sang along to most of the tracks the band played and was overall very excited that AGBPOL was back in town. The band was great as well, chatting up the crowd a bit between songs and being ever so accommodating when some fans took it upon themselves to jump onto the stage during the last song and rock along with them which I think would have annoyed a lot of other bands.

I walked out into the cool fall night feeling pretty happy with my concert experience. I had found some new great bands to listen to and gotten a great live show from some new and old favorites.