If there's one thing Papa's good at (for the record, the band's good at a bunch of stuff), it's riling up a crowd, and that was evident last night at the Constellation Room. Their OC fan base, which was much younger than I would have expected, began to go bonkers as soon as Darren Weiss and Daniel Presant came out to set up, and that euphoria only escalated when the duo, along with a touring guitarist and keyboardist, strutted onstage to the fitting sounds of Notorious B.I.G.'s “Big Poppa.”
Before taking place behind his drum kit, Weiss psyched himself up with his back to the audience, stretching his arms like a fighter would before getting into the ring, only instead of boxing gloves his hands were occupied with a lasso of bells. When he was ready to start playing, he hopped on his seat and swung the bells over his head, giving a loud yell. The audience returned the primal greeting with cheers and applause. After such an entrance, it was only fitting that halfway through the first song, “If You're My Girl, Then I'm Your Man,” a leak in the ceiling gave out and drenched half the crowd. Weiss stopped mid-song to rightfully say, “What the fuck?” followed by, “I guess we're getting wet tonight!” The soaked attendees showed their agreement by thrashing even harder.
And the antics did not stop there. As the band played “Let's Make You Pregnant,” a girl in the front row held up a sign that read “I Love You Papa. You Can Make Me Pregnant!” and in between songs a different girl screamed “I have a question!”
Before hitting the first note, Weiss turned to the voice. “Well what is it? You stopped the fucking show for it.”
“Everybody should take their shirts off!” she exclaimed.
With a chuckle, the four musicians looked at each other. “If we do that, then everyone needs to go crazy for the rest of the show,” Weiss replied. The crowd cheered in appliance and the band disrobed.
Shirtless, Papa played some new tracks off their recently announced debut LP, Tender Madness, which is slated for an October release, and ended the set with “I Am The Lion King,” a single and fan favorite off 2011's A Good Woman Is Hard To Find. Weiss stopped the song prematurely to run across the stage and high five his fans, and as they finished the song one brave soul decided to crowd surf (he almost made it onstage!). Having exhausted their full set list, the guys used their encore to play a surprisingly good cover of Patti Smith's “Because The Night,” and an amped up version of “Put Me To Work.” “If you didn't hear it the first time, you can hear it now,” Weiss said, and though I'm betting that damn near everyone heard it the first time, they were just as happy the second time around.
Critical Bias: The first time I saw Papa I was severely unimpressed. I don't know what was wrong with me that night, because they put on a killer live show.
The Crowd: Horny, young girls, and lots of 'em.
Overheard In The Crowd: “Let's start an all girl band called Mama and collaborate with Papa.”
Random Notebook Dump: Bands with drummers that sing automatically get extra cool points.