Last Friday, rising indie darlings She Wants Revenge performed at the UCen as part of the Associated Students Program Board’s fall lineup. Consisting primarily of vocalist Justin Warfield and guitarist Adam Bravin, She Wants Revenge has risen to considerable prominence in the music scene in only two years. With only two EPs and a self-titled album, songs like “Tear You Apart” and “Out of Control” have gained extensive radio playtime and are easily recognizable. Combining the emotive, danceable, post-punk energy of bands like Joy Division with the gloomy, synth-laden, distinctly ’80s club vibe of Depeche Mode or Bauhaus, She Wants Revenge has won fans audience-by-audience as they have toured extensively this year, performing at the Coachella Music Festival and traveling with Placebo.
She Wants Revenge performed to a modest but enthusiastic crowd, coming onstage after nearly two hours of opening acts. Dapperly dressed (except for guitarist Adam Bravin), She Wants Revenge performed comfortably and capably, with more energy than their red-eye set at Coachella this year. Some UCSB concert-goers lose major points, however, for booing keyboardist Thomas Froggatt during a heartfelt solo performance of “Disconnect,” a song that is the one quiet spot, and one of the greatest, on their album. But despite the crowd’s lack of appreciation for anything without a dance beat, She Wants Revenge was personable and effusive in their appreciation. “Thank you from our hearts for being so special to us,” Warfield said at the end of the performance.
She Wants Revenge, in a fairly short set, went through the bulk of their repertoire (with only one studio album out, there are only so many songs). Their songs are polished and well produced, but have a cold detachment to them that stands at odds with their dance vibe. In live performance, that starkness vanishes entirely. Although they didn’t stray much from the recorded versions of the songs, Warfield’s baritone vocals take on an emotional nuance beyond their cool drone, and the drumming, which sounds like a drum machine on the album, has a vigor that really propels the songs. Their most played songs, like “These Things” and “Out of Control” benefited enormously from the live treatment, especially in the excellent closing rendition of “Tear You Apart.”
Hopefully, this kind of performance is the start of a new trend for the Associated Students Program Board. By hosting acts like She Wants Revenge, UCSB not only finds a rare opportunity for concertgoers to attend a show for an up-and-coming act outside of L.A., but also helps launch bands like She Wants Revenge on their way to stardom, winning one college student at a time. It’s an endless cycle of benefit for all involved, a cycle that hopefully won’t be ending anytime soon.