"Thank you very much... The Bowery Ballroom!"
Public Service Broadcasting is a supremely talented duo from London. J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth introduced themselves to the music world with their debut album "Inform-Educate-Entertain", which made use of archival soundclips to form self-contained songs. Their second album "The Race for Space" takes a more Gestalt approach, as the theme of all tracks is the Space Race of the 1960s and 1970s. Wikipedia provides an informative list of all the events that inspired each track. Their live show was a wonderfully immersive spectacle. Each track had a custom video projected behind the band related to the song. In that sense, it reminded me of one of my other favorite instrumental bands God Is An Astronaut.
The opening act was Kauf. I got there halfway through his set, but it was great dancing music with a strong beat.
Public Service Broadcasting opened up their set by playing "Sputnik". Afterwards, they played a pre-recorded clip explaining that their new album was about the space race (aptly titled "The Race For Space").
J. Willgoose, Esquire on guitar. Here he is with a Telecaster. He switched between three guitars, a banjo, and controlled the clips from his laptop.
This was "Theme from PSB", which is basically the band's anthem.
I believe this was a new track titled "E.V.A.". Here, J. Willgoose switched to his Strat. When listening to the albums, the guitar is so well blended into the atmospheric mix. It was great to watch that happen live as well.
Neither band member spoke at all. Instead, J. Willgoose played pre-recorded clips from his laptop. It was hilarious when they thanked the crowd and then added "New York City" or "The Bowery Ballroom" (hence the quote at the top of the page).
The effort these guys put into their music videos is amazing. This was them playing their first single off the new record "Gagarin". If you haven't watched the video yet, do yourself a favor and watch it now. It's one of the most fun videos I've seen in a long time. Great song to move to as well.
The song is named after Yuri Gagarin, the first cosmonaut to enter outer space. The song was spliced with clips praising Gagarin's bravery and contribution to science. I believe one of the clips was Carl Sagan, but I can't find any citation for that.
I believe this was still "Gagarin".
J. Willgoose switched over to his Rickenbacker guitar for "Nightmail", one of my favorite songs from the band. The "lyrics" are so masterfully spliced together, and I love the story it weaves.
Wrigglesworth on the drums (and some synths). Obviously, with just two guys on stage, they couldn't play all of the sounds live, but I was most impressed that they were in lockstep with the backing tracks. They sounded exactly like they do on their albums.
Another of my favorite tracks on "Inform-Educate-Entertain". This one is "ROYGBIV", a song about the invention of the color television.
J. Willgoose, Esq. fiddling on his Nord Lead 4R synth
This was "Go!", the lyrics of which adorned the back of one of the band's t-shirts that they had for sale at merch.
J. Willgoose, Esq. under red lights. Even though there were a lot of movie clips playing on the screen behind them, there was a lot of cool lighting effects going on.
Back to the Fender Telecaster.
Wrigglesworth in between songs
I believe this was "Valentina", a track from the new album.
They next played "Elfstedentocht, Part 2", a song I had never heard before and isn't on their two studio albums. They introduced it as a track about Dutch ice skating.
One more of Elfstedentocht, Part 2
The last song of their main set was "Spitfire", a song about warplanes.
All of J. Willgoose, Esq's instruments on stage.
The band's two song encore began with "The Other Side", a song about Apollo 8, which was the first manned spaceflight to orbit the moon and return. The title of the song is a reference to reaching the other side of the moon.
Public Service Broadcasting finished their amazing set with "Everest", which is definitely my favorite track from the band (and judging by the crowd reaction, I wasn't alone in this sentiment). The song ends with a wonderful quote from George Mallory. When asked why he climbed Mount Everest, he said, "Because it's there". This quote is also referenced by JFK in a speech about the space race, which is in turn sampled in the title track "The Race for Space". A nice bridge between the band's two albums.