Review: Peach Pit with Sergeant Jammer and Dukla

First things first, if you are lucky enough to go down the right alley, through the right door, then continue down a few flights of stairs through double doors and finally enter what looks like somewhere for live music, you should definitely check out Underdogs’ Ballroom and Bar. Definitely a bar and not at all a ballroom, this house-basement-sized concert hall reminded me of being dragged to see someone’s friend’s band that is “kind of good” but you’re in a basement and it’s pretty crowded and hot. This place had a few of those elements, filled with Czech high schoolers and thirty-somethings and no one in between except for us three Americans.

First up was Sergeant Jammer, a rock trio from right here in Prague. They obviously have a loving following of local fans as an enthusiastic group danced and sang along to every word. They were loud and they were loved as singer and guitarist Lukáš Kostka confesses in “Forever:” “I am your hero / but only in my mind.” Seeing Sergeant Jammer was like seeing that one band from your highschool that actually got somewhere and decided to return home to play for their original, day one fans.

Following them was Dukla, a team of two also from Prague. This time, instead of indie rock it was bedroom pop that had everyone swaying and nodding their heads (a high form of praise for a genre based on dreamy, muffled sounds instead of sick guitar solos). Although lead singer Lukáš Vydra sang only in Czech, it was easy to tell that “Vinohrady,” a track on and also the title of their EP, definitely had a more somber tone (I later translated the lyrics which repeated “I am the saddest boy / of all Vinohrady”). If I were to pinpoint what it felt like to see Dukla live, I’d say it was like being on a beach in the winter with a nice group of friends. Comfortable and carefree and lovely.

From the second Peach Pit opened with the dancey-pop anthem “Drop the Guillotine,” the everyone was hooked. Lead singer Neil Smith, a harmonic blend of dorky awkwardness and summer-cool vibes immediately won every heart in the room. Guitarist Christopher Vanderkooy, the obviously comfortable rock star of the group, came off the stage and into the crowd during the outro of “Alrighty Aphrodite,” and, surprisingly and suddenly crowd surfed during another solo. Smith’s adorable charm got him a lot of adoring screams and “I love you”s from the crowd as he explained how, this one time, he didn’t want to go to a rave (because he feels awkward at them-- cue the “aww!”s) but eventually went because the girl who invited him was totally hot. “Tommy’s Party” was a particularly lovely moment, a nostalgic ode to a birthday party with a sort of depressing feel. Smith laments “Seemed like loneliness was all we'd ever do /But now she's knowing you, just like I used to,” before Vanderkooy leaps into one of those soothing looping guitar solos that gives you the same feeling of walking home really late at night but not the scary part, just the nice, calm part.

Before leaving the stage, they closed with a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Go, Johnny, Go” during which, one by one, people in the crowd climbed on stage to dance with the band (didn’t seem like they really liked that). Nonetheless the show ended on a fun, innocent, groovy note, not unlike breaking out into a spontaneous dance party at a middle school slumber party.

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