Tinted Windows @ The Troubadour, 4/28/09
Full disclosure: when I was twelve, I was a hardcore, die-hard Hanson fan. I knew all the lyrics to their debut album, Middle of Nowhere, and so did millions and millions of other prepubescent girls around the nation. Hanson was perfect for twelve year olds. They were young, cute, never sung about anything offensive, and most important of all they wrote and played their own instruments. Unlike the other schlock that was being marketed towards my undeveloped brain like Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and NSYNC, these kids actually had some modicum of authenticity.
It turns out that this is the exact speech I have to give every time I tell people that I was once a Hanson fan. The listener's eyes always widens with shock and their estimation of my musical taste immediately goes down the tubes. No matter what I say afterward, my reputation is forever besmirched with my affection for "Where's the Love." (Get ready, Jonas Brothers fans. When you grow up, people are going to do the same to you.)
So when I heard that Taylor Hanson had joined forces with the great lyricist, Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), the great guitarist, James Iha ( formerly of the Smashing Pumpkins), and the legendary drummer Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick) to form Tinted Windows, I was excited. Could this be the band that justifies my pre-teenage love for Hanson? Would this be the album wipe that would smirk off their faces? Full of anticipation, I headed to the Troubadour to find out.
It turns out that I was not alone in my need to see Taylor Hanson on stage again. The Troubadour was packed with women in their twenties in every size, color, and shape imaginable. The variety was truly amazing. From tough tattooed punks with shaved heads, to respectable business women in suits, to sparkly hipsters, to hippie dippie folky types adorned with with beads and feathers, women from all walks of life crammed in to relive their adolescence. Sticking out of this sea of ladies were islands of guys, who looked incredibly uncomfortable with the Hanson vibe in the room.
My photographer and I invented a new game for the occasion and went around the room guessing if the guy was there because he was a Cheap Trick, Smashing Pumpkin, or Fountains of Wayne fan. They were usually pretty easy to figure out based on what they were wearing. Cheap Trick fans were usually older and wearing leather of some kind. Fountains of Wayne and Smashing Pumpkin fans were harder to tell apart clothing wise, but the Smashing Pumpkin fans tended to have a much sterner look on their faces when you told them about the game. However, it seemed that no one in the entire venue was there to see Tinted Windows. Everyone was attached to the members of the band, but not the band itself.
As with many super groups, the whole is not equal to the sum of the parts. Tinted Windows took the stage and began playing their catchy brand of power pop, but it was clear for these guys that they weren't really trying. Yes, they all played, sang, and performed well, but there was no real passion in it. Unlike most bands, a super group is not desperate to succeed. They don't play as if each song was their last because they know that eventually they're just going to go back to their day jobs. Tinted Windows for these guys is nothing more than a lark, a pet project, something to do while their bands aren't touring, and that nonchalance reflects in their music. Tinted Windows is not a super group, but instead a watered down version of what a good pop band should be.