(see also: Aaron Goes to Concerts! Again (sadly) without Ilana.)
May 18 - Shout Out Louds - Great American Music Hall
Ilana was a little under the weather, so I hit this one with and handful of concert-going people from work (Meg, Eric, Gene).
Freelance Whales (who I had just seen weeks earlier) opened, and sounded largely terrible. Tinny and distant. Their songs are good enough to be pleasant under any circumstances, but most people around me seemed disappointed. Also, following up on an earlier theme, one of the Whales was wearing a shirt of former tourmates Bear In Heaven, lending credence to my theory that the band only owns clothing it has been able to steal from other merch tables. Now that is punk!
I know the "hipster" stereotype is useful and fun for everyone, but the audience at indie rock shows actually varies quite a bit from band to band. True to their Swedish heritage, the crowd at this show was exceedingly tall and blond. I assume they were also very polite, but I didn't really interact with anyone.
As soon as the first rumbling bass note of the Shout Out Louds set hit ... everything was immediately different. I listen to a lot of music, but I really don't understand much of how it is produced. I am a music nerd, but not really a SOUND nerd. I can enjoy songs on cheap computer speakers. I can listen to a top of the line stereo system and wonder what all the fuss was about.
This show, though, is one that I can honestly say was defined by the incredible sound quality. Deep, rich sound. Warm, detailed sound. It enveloped everyone. It had me smiling for no reason. I didn't even realize I was doing it until my cheeks started to hurt. It was glorious.
And the band, to their credit, lived up to the technical brilliance surrounding them. Four songs in (on "Tonight I Have to Leave It"), lead singer Adam Olenius was already wandering into the crowd, passing the microphone to anyone who wanted to sing. During the encore, he even attempted to use the mic stand to hoist the mic into the balcony.* It was a show full of onstage smiles, full of band members breaking into giggles as songs started.
*This failed, but he was surprisingly close.
And the crowd was equally receptive. I was surprised by how well everyone knew songs from the first album, cheering in recognition far before I caught on.* There were at least three "we can't start the next song until you stop cheering, and now we're just kinda standing around awkwardly" applause breaks.
*And I know that sounds self-important, like I'm somehow the barometer of music knowledge and appreciation, but ... I like Shout Out Louds a lot. They are my favorite Swedish band, and I really like Swedish bands. It was great to see so many people sharing (even exceeding) my fandom.
Before the encore, I thought, "I don't think they'll play three songs, but I'd really like to hear "You Are Dreaming," "Impossible," and "Walls." And I assumed they'd play the latter, since it's their current single, but I was blown away when they played all three. I know those are three of their biggest songs, and maybe I should have expected it, and it's not like I believe the band set up their whole performance just for me, but ...
I don't know. Reading this blog, I hope you get the impression that I love pretty much everything. Because I do. But I know that kind of outlook can become exhausting, too. I know it can be hard to differentiate. So let me put it this way: I go to a lot of concerts that I enjoy, but at the same time, I also go to a lot of concerts where I'm glad when it's over. I had fun, band sounded great, lived up to my expectations, great memories ... time to go. And there are a lot of bands that I'm pretty much content to see once and never again.
Shout Out Louds, though ... I would see them again. Tonight. And again tomorrow. I would see them wherever, and whenever. Maybe every show wouldn't be like this one. But I would have to go find out.
Download: Shout Out Louds - "1999"