World Leader Pretend
April 25, 2004
I first saw World Leader Pretend a few months ago at a Tipitina's show. Everyone was there to see them, and it seemed like the show was gonna be deemed a success no matter how hard the band played. I actually left early because the contrast between drummer Arthur Mintz's energy and the band's stoicism and self-consciousness was unsettling.
When the band opened up Jazzfest Sunday on the Sprint stage, they were the underdogs, and this made their performance a whole lot more interesting. It was raining, not everyone there knew their music or who they were, and they were playing experimental rock to a crowd not used to such a thing. The band nonetheless rocked, succeeded, and surpassed their Tips performance by miles.
World Leader Pretend were a local quartet that played atmospheric rock which highlighted the darker feelings in life—alienation, confusion, anger, and fear. Parker Hutchinson's synthesized strange sounds were essential to their slower, moody songs. Mintz and Matt Martin's slide guitar antics were invaluable when the band rocked out like Stone Temple Pilots. Vocalist/guitarist Keith Ferguson rounded out the band.
Mintz's flailing yet precise playing was the first thing to make me believe in the music. Then, once I saw that the other guys were traversing the stage and doing a good job of re-producing their album's electronic sounds live, I was sold.
The band took the music up, then down, and they often locked onto a melody that struck my heart. They rocked in a sensitive way. I enjoyed their performance immensely.