At first glance, the Bowery Ballroom should have been a battleground: The United States vs. Canada (complete with a Canadian flag draped from the second floor) or Boston vs. New York (a rivalry referenced several times during the show). Consider for a moment world outside of this sacred space at the Bowery: politicians, athletes, world leaders, actors and more are ready to draw their swords at a moment’s notice.
It’s remarkable, then, that the Arkells stand out with a platform of kindness; their happy, endearing, and cute nature illuminated by their neon signs. It’s sugar and nice and absolutely no spice.
And it’s exactly what we needed.
Contrary to the aggressive, dangerous world, it felt like someone accidentally spilled maple syrup at the Bowery during the Arkells show on Friday November 17th. And with that in mind, may I present five exhibits to the judge that prove that the Arkells ar-kill it in the cute department.
Exhibit A: Slaughtering the guest list with kindness.
While in New York, the Arkells dined at The Butcher’s Daughter and decided to add their server to the guest list. They showed up to the show at the Bowery, and received a shout out on stage from the band.
Exhibit B: Swear words are used for gratitude.
In a show mostly devoid of expletives, the Arkells brought them back in prominent fashion: to silence the crowd and celebrate journalists. Singer Max Kerman swore to bring the audience quiet, and then shared ‘I don’t think there is a greater task than a public servant.” The thank you continued through an acoustic start to the next song as the riveting lyrics like “He’s making promises he can’t keep” felt even more like a reference to the world outside of the Bowery.
Exhibit C: Are we at a Christian rock show?
From the bathrooms to the bar stools, one question was asked the most: Are we at a Christian rock show? There’s a certain feel of Christian rock songs. The timing, the lyrics, the mixing, and ebb and flow of the song all seem to support the conclusion of “this song is promoting a message.” A quick Google search proved to curious patrons that the Arkells do not identify as a Christian rock group.
Exhibit D: Moving from pop rock to Pop Rocks.
Even as they referred to their performance as a “rock show,” there were a few moments during the Arkells’ set that felt more like rock candy than hard rock. At one point, the Arkells launched into a cover of “Great Balls of Fire,” a tune perhaps more appropriate at a Rock Back the Clock event than a rock show. The audience ate it up. In an even bigger surprise, the Arkells opened their encore with a cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” This felt more Pop Rocks: a sweet exterior with a surprise. They were good guys gone bad, but just for three minutes.
Exhibit E: Propelling the career of our new favorite guitarist, Amanda.
Hoping to get a fan on stage, the Arkells inquired if there were any guitar players in the audience. What they received was Amanda: a hair flipping, hard rocking surprise guitarist that almost lit up the show more than the “Arkells Touring Band” light up sign that graced the stage. She was simply amazing. She walked off stage newly christed as “New York City’s finest Amanda” and now, she’s either the newest member of the Arkells, or someone’s brand new record deal. Get on it!
And with that, the prosecution rests.