My Musical Adventures

Hot Challenge, Panda, Dangraham @ GAMH, 4/12/08

Hot Challenge really couldn’t have picked a better day to headline a show at one of my favorite SF venues, the Great American Music Hall. It was 80 degrees, ya’ll! Let’s hear some local tunes.

We walked in midway through Dangraham’s set, which was surprisingly full of dark and heavy beats. Dressed in black, I would consider them an industrial version of Holy Fuck. Lots of interesting and unconventional sounds resulted in complex but danceable music. While the 2 guys started out looking very serious and intense, they ended with some entertaining dance moves.


I had heard good things about Panda– it’s catchy pop rock but much much lighter than my usual fare. However, the atmosphere turned into a high school dance faster than you can say ‘hella’. Their performance somewhat destructed amidst the swooning 16, 14, even 12 year olds in the crowd. I spent 40 minutes cringing. I think their parents were even there. These kids in the audience were being absurd, at one point even attempting to mosh to a song that was so poppy that Live 105 probably wouldn’t even play it. Girls were giving each other raunchy lapdances in chairs- it was all like some version of a prom gone wrong. The vocals were shabby live, the kid was really letting the crowd get the best of him. The only speck of enjoyment to be had was during their cover of The Beatles ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’, to which they brought some soul that was waaaaayyy beyond their years. A few more years of maturity for both them and their fans and this might, might, become enjoyable.

From another show:

Hot Challenge schooled Panda with their ability to pull of a set with this increasingly annoying crowd. Before the set even began, some kid got dragged out by security for misbehavin’. Hot Challenge is comprised of 3 brothers plus ‘a bro’, as they say. The singer/guitarist’s voice has similarities to Brandon Flowers of The Killers, as other reviewers have picked up on. Both cause me to have a similar reaction- very unique voice, but I can never shake the feeling that it’s slightly out of tune due to their style. This is less apparent when they are playing live. Their set was polished, and they definitely have a stage presence. The brothers wear matching white denim, and the drummer plays with his shirt off. The teeny-boppers were eating it up. They tell jokes between songs, the winner of the night being ‘How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb’, to which the answer was ‘You tell me’. Though I don’t know how many in the crowd were old and jaded enough to be hipsters. Where some of their songs blend together in a sea of pop rock for me, they have some stand outs like ‘Vacuous/Copper Eyes’ and ‘Wine’. If they could just age up their crowd a bit, their show would be an enjoyable dance party.

hot challenge

Hot Challenge performance: 7/10
Panda performance: 4/10
Dangraham performance: 7.5/10
venue (Great American Music Hall): 9.5/10
crowd/scene: 0/10
value ($13/ticket): 5/10
memorable: 5/10

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