When I was in high school my religion teacher had a poster in his room that said, “What is popular isn’t always right, and what is right isn’t always popular.” This was never truer than Monday at the Bluebird Theater before the Secret Machines took the stage. I haven’t been to a show that felt that empty since I was 17 standing on a makeshift stage in a small-town community center harboring delusions that I was a musician.
When the band took the stage, the crowd filled in the pit near down front and gave the show less of a Tampa Bay Devil Rays (pre-World Series) feel. For the band’s opening song, “Lightning Blue Eyes,” the members stood nearly motionless as six fog lights in back turned them into silhouettes. As the show progressed the lightning changed to match the mood of each tune. Blue lights from the floor shone during “Nowhere Again” and rapid swirling rainbow lights accompanied “First Wave Intact.”
As Secret Machines settled into the set their brand of prog-rock took over with longwinded jams that dragged on and on, creating a black hole of entertainment. During the show the band was selling 3-D glasses for fifty cents to enhance the visuals. However, just like in “Friday the 13th” and “Jaws 3-D,” the gimmick didn’t make up for the lack of substance.
Just as I began to look at the clock the band pulled me back in with the eloquently titled “Alone, Jealous, and Stoned” and rode a strong wave to finish up the set. Despite engaging in pretentious jams at times, the Secret Machines did not perform a planned and obligatory encore, they merely said thank you and walked off the stage. While almost every band on the planet indulges in this popular trend the Secret Machines decided not to do what is popular, but to do what was right.