I WAS THERE: The Virgins/Young Lords @ Santos Party House, 8.27.08

By Aaron Richter

NYU is back in session, as was evident by the frosh and frat crowd in attendance for The Virgins and Young Lords at Santos Wedesday evening. The place was packed, more packed than we’ve seen Santos yet, with oblivious boyfriends, screaming fangirls and awkward nose jobs galore.

Like a fairly straightforward Strokes-ization of the Rolling Stones, Young Lords opened with a raucous set–nothing groundbreaking, but damn fun and tight as hell. A Boss cover brought tons of cheers, but it’s a shame that, when this group’s album drops in October, most people won’t dig past the group’s “look” to discover the solid tunes beneath the chiseled cheekbones, rock poses and natty threads. All of the dudes lay it on heavy–half look like Patti Smith, half like Nigel Tufnel–so they’re probably in a good place if they’re looking to audition for the Kings of Leon biopic. Overall, the set included no less than three potentially great singles, if only the band can maintain its live swagger on record.

The Virgins were delightful, as usual, chugging through their flawless self-titled debut. After recovering from a brutally rough rendition of “Murder” (frontman Donald Cumming’s vocals were too quiet and the stripped-down instrumental sounded unrehearsed), lively tracks (“Hey Hey Girl,” “Radio Christiane” and “She’s Expensive”) invigorated the crowd while somber joints (“Fernando Pando” and “Love Is Colder Than Death”) allowed Cumming to flex his improved voice, even though he was noticeably (intentionally?) flat throughout the rest of the set.

Also of note: The group has added a second guitarist to take over Cumming’s parts and free up the singer to move around the stage, dance and interact more with the audience. Which is great because the lanky frontman is charming and adorable. But the noob, a deadringer for Kevin Federline, looked completely out of place, slinging his guitar like he was livin’ the dream in an Everclear cover band and belting his vocal harmonies louder than the lead singer. We tried our best to ignore him.