It’s not often that the queue at King Tut’s winds out the door and down the street, but this “new” band has credentials. Before doors open, singalongs erupt of tunes from Dallon Weekes’ old band, Panic! At The Disco.
So that’s the easy explanation for the mania that has erupted up St Vincent Street tonight. Let’s face it, Panic just sold out the SSE Hydro in a matter of minutes. They’re kind of a big deal. But ex-members of popular bands (especially those not from the original lineup and only briefly allowed to be involved in the songwriting process) don’t always take this kind of fan base with them.
When the lights drop, a robotic voice greets the screaming crowd, apparently looking for friends. Before long, Weekes marches out all dapper in a white shirt, white floral blazer and painted face. He’s got that magnetic, captivating front man vibe from the off. Drummer Ryan Seaman (ex-Falling In Reverse) is close behind with blue hair, pink sequin bomber and wide grin. They look like a teenage dream.
There’s a concept behind this project – I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (IDKHow for short) is supposed to be a “lost” act from the 70s or 80s who never made it, and whose tapes have been unearthed. It’s a nicely crafted set up with not too much schtick, and it speaks well to an audience who are used to their favourite bands constructing mysteries on social media. From Creeper’s James Scythe to pretty much everything Twenty One Pilots do, the kids today love a good story.
The set kicks off with ‘Choke’ – a melodic romper that wouldn’t sound out of place on the first Fratellis album, brutal lyrics juxtaposed against a pretty tune. Weekes looks and moves a lot like Brandon Flowers, but somehow rather less Vegas – the real, weird, flawed, Utah human rather than the Nevada waxwork. He’s aloof yet attentive, theatrical but true.
In an hour-long set IDKHow hop from 70s glam to 80s synths to 90s power pop and, of course, 00s theatrical emo rock. Few bands can genre-jump like this, and even fewer can keep paying attention to having good songs beneath all the styling.
With only two of them on stage – playing bass and drums – it’s safe to say there’s a backing track doing a heck of a lot of the hard work for IDKHow. But they put enough of a convincing, dramatic and sometimes peculiar performance in to pull it off.
At a few points, Weekes demands complete silence from the crowd and gets them to join in with hand claps, finger snaps and vocal gymnastics. He commands them brilliantly as he wanders out into the crowd, gesturing for them to clear a path. When he asks them to put their phones away for a bit, it’s impressive to see how easily a packed room of millennials oblige.
If they weren’t putty enough, Weekes compliments the crowd lavishly. They’re “snappy dressers”, “excellent at spelling”, “punctual”. He calls them “children” in a way that plays straight into the social media trend of young fans calling their idols “dad”. It’s not creepy, I promise. Seaman beams behind the kit through it all.
Some of the night’s tunes come from the pair’s own forgotten band that never made it – The Brobecks – suggesting that the new outfit may not have enough material for their debut album quite yet… but with a deal just signed, anticipation is high.
Although only a handful of tracks by IDKHow have been officially released so far, the live streaming generation know everything already and keep the energy dial turned to eleven all night. The only time they seem a little lost is when Weekes’ invites them to sing along to Cheap Trick’s 1979 hit ‘I Want You To Want Me’. He jokes afterwards that he can tell the median age of a crowd by the reaction to that. Sure, he may be reaching with the Cheap Trick reference, but surely they remember the Letters To Cleo version from Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles’ classic teen rom com ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’? Right? Wait… that film came out 19 years ago?! Before many of these glitter-faced teens were born?! Hand me my bus pass!
IDKHow close the show with the witty and elegant ‘Nobody Likes The Opening Band’, almost a capella save for some tambourine. Weekes’ angelic voice rings through the venue as he steps away from the microphone for the big finale. It wraps up an accomplished set from a pair who have evidently already mastered their craft in songwriting, performance and imagination. It will be very, very interesting to see where they take this project next.