Prior to forming the indie-rocking Maccabees in 2004 in London, England, vocalist Orlando Weeks was a public-school-educated art student interested in naturalist broadcasts . He connected with left-handed guitarist Felix White while playing soccer together on their school's common. They recruited Felix's 16-year-old brother, Hugo White, also an guitarist. Rupert Jarvis was an automotive engineering student hoping to become a race car driver; he was recruited on bass because he could play Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" on guitar. The musicians selected their band name by browsing the Bible and picking out a random word; the original Maccabees were a second-century Judean army whose victory started the tradition of Chanukah. Drummer Sam Doyle joined the band in 2008. The band's fourth album, Marks To Prove It, will be released on July 31, 2015.
The Maccabees earned a large following in Great Britain, and success is promising on American shores. Currently on tour opening for Mumford & Sons, the band squeezed in a headlining engagement tonight at le Poisson Rouge, a much smaller venue than the tour allows. The Maccabees played a kinetic set of original songs whose key features were soft vocals backed by a vibrating wall of sound created by jangly indie guitars, wistful keyboards and often driving rhythms. Beginning with the title track from the second album, tonight's set included 12 songs from the band's first three albums as well as four new songs from the forthcoming album. Curiously forfeiting the dynamics of musical peaks and valleys, the music fell somewhere between Coldplay's soft center and Arcade Fire's thunderous delivery. It will be interesting to see if this blend of sounds will find an audience in the states.
Visit the Maccabees at www.themaccabees.co.uk.