Originally Published in The Daily Free Press on April 14, 2011
The Royal Bangs, Grouplove and Foster the People proved a triple threat at Brighton Music Hall last Thursday, pumping out a night of low-fi excitement, eventually fizzling out in a monotonous wait of equipment setup hell at the end of the night.
The Knoxville trio Royal Bangs took the stage first, a surprising opener as the band is far more eminent that the other two they were sharing the bill with.
The Royal Bangs were just named as one of Spin Magazine’s “Best New Artists for April” and made their television debut on Letterman this month.
Indicative of their MySpace discovery by Black Keys’ drummer Patrick Carney, the Royal Bangs weave techie flourishes with guitars and voices bathed in effects.
While this layered technique works on record, it seemed to hinder the trio on the Brighton stage as they promoted their latest LP Flux Outside.
The electronic overdrive on all the instruments blurred the individual instrument lines into a cacophonic tangle rendering lead singer Ryan Schaefer completely unintelligible.
Schaefer mirrors the Doors’ Ray Manzarek on keyboards and synths, simultaneously pumping out a bass line and synth lead while guitarist Sam Stratton and drummer Chris Rusk are equally powerful in their corners of the stage.
The Royal Bangs would do well to tone down the fuzz and gel their individual talents into a more coherent sound. While they work on this, pick up Flux Outside to hear their best “Back Then It Was Different.”
Next came Grouplove, a five-piece harmony of lazy surfer ambience pierced by the solid lead voices Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper.
According to the L.A. Times, the five met while all vacationing on the island of Crete and formed out of “ love for one another,” which certainly shined through the shadows at Brighton Music Hall.
Still giddy from their SXSW performance, Grouplove brought fervor as they danced, stomped and jumped about the stage, pumping out instrumentals.
The band’s backing tracks are witty anthems, mixing charming acoustic guitar with catchy hooks.
Grouplove does, however, need to grow lyrically; some tracks sound a little too close to other West Coast acts, many of which perform on the Disney Channel.
Slated to perform next was Foster the People (FTP), a LA-based threesome projected to be the next MGMT. Yet, the dragging forty-five minute wait until FTP finally finished their set-up demolished any eagerness for their performance.
FTP echoes MGMT, but lacks the same charisma that strengthens the latter band. While FTP only has one EP, they’ve gathered quite a following with “Pumped Up Kicks,” a heavily-layered piece that features Gorillaz-like vocals.
FTP’s performance of “Kicks” was the best of their set and certainly moved the Brighton audience. The potential power of the rest of the night, however, was lost to over-effect that clouded the vocals and actual lines of the instruments, especially after the interminable wait.
While Thursday‘s show was frustrating in more ways than one, the three groups have promise for the future. Until then, we’ll just have to wait.