A decade ago, it would be hard to imagine a concert that could bring fans of Hanson and The Smashing Pumpkins together under one roof. But on Tuesday night, at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, new supergroup Tinted Windows did just that.
The band is a collection of boldfaced names from drastically different musical backgrounds. On drums is Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick, James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins is on guitar, and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne is on bass duty. Rounding out the foursome is none other than Taylor Hanson, former boy-bander turned father-of-four, on the mic.
Tinted Windows play raw, retro power pop: aggressively fast with lots of harmonizing and guitar solos. On songs like Can’t Get a Read on You and Kind of a Girl, Schlesinger’s songwriting skills shine through. And while Hanson’s voice used to come across as semi-whiny, years have added a grittier, more grown-up side to his signature sound. Still, though he’s got all the enthusiasm and magnetism required of a lead singer, the Mmmbop star lacks a bit of a rock-and-roll edge. He took the stage in a red button-up shirt, skinny tie that and white jeans that, on him, came across as more Jonas Brothers than Jack White. At the same time, it’s refreshing that he isn’t trying too hard to remake his image—and that he’s also endearingly a bit star struck by his iconic band mates. “We have James f***ing Iha over here!” he shouted a few songs in.
Overall, the weakest link in Tinted Windows’ music is some of the lyrics. Coming from Schlesinger, who penned witty tracks like Radiation Vibe and even Stacy’s Mom, lines like “Cuz this time all I really want to say/is I need you ever day“ are a disappointment. But the infectiously catchy songs and sheer skill of this group helped overcome that weakness.
All it took was one look around the packed venue to prove the band’s likeability. There were obvious die-hard Hanson fans, screaming their lungs out and trying constantly to catch his eye, disaffected Hollywood hipsters who haunt the Troubadour nightly, and even one big, muscled-out guy, covered in tattoos, who mouthed the words to every song. Considering that pop music is all about mass appeal, Tinted Windows’ take on the genre seems pitch perfect to us.