Los Angeles – On a mellow night, in Downtown LA, at a little known venue known as The Teragram Ballroom, Bad Suns performed to an electric sold-out crowd. Off the heels of its fantastic sophomore LP, Disappear Here (which is a favorite of Vinyl Theatre’s Keegan Calmes), the hometown quartet performed 17 songs, to a packed 600 capacity room, giving slight advantage in song choices to the band’s latest endeavor. The crowd was equally enthusiastic about Bad Suns playing songs new and old, which included tunes from debut LP Language & Perspective.
Kid Bloom, a young band from Los Angeles, kicked off the night with a handful of psychedelic pop tunes, charisma, and intrigue. I’d certainly keep an eye out for this quintet in the future. The audience was then warmed up by alternative pop four-piece, COIN. The Nashville natives supplied the crowd with a performance full of allure and zest. Buoyant vocals and energetic synths had the audience clamoring for more. Squeals for frontman Chase Lawrence emerged from the crowd, the majority of which were young women. As COIN concluded its set, the energy shifted, as buzz grew in anticipation for the headliners, Bad Suns.
As quickly as Christo Bowman (lead vocals/guitar), Miles Morris (drums), Gavin Bennett (bass/keyboard), and Ray Libby (guitar), took to the stage and opened with, “Disappear Here,” they were promptly greeted with an overwhelming ovation from fans. It was the band’s first appearance in LA in nearly two years, and what a welcoming these young dudes received! It was one of the most energetic shows I’ve attended in some time, as it appeared like everyone knew the words to every song, including the brand new ones. It felt as if nothing outside those doors Friday night had much relevance. We were all there, in support of Bad Suns, living in the moment, feeling the ecstasy inside and out. The second song of the night was, “Patience,” also off Disappear Here. It was a lively track, filled with slick guitars, heart-pounding drums, and Bowman’s crisp vocals. The crowd was enthralled and singing enthusiastically along to the lyrics, “All my dreams have been weighing me down / Like an anchor to my bed / I can live my life instead.”
The dance-worthy “Even In My Dreams, I Can’t Win” followed the same passion, by both the band and the crowd. The crowd jumped with pure excitement. Bowman surely knew how to engage the crowd, bringing them closer in each time after a string of songs. Oldie “Dancing On Quicksand,” from Language & Perspective, was immediately recognized by everyone in attendance. “Sleep Paralysis” featured a slower tempo than previous jams, but it was equally engaging, showing off a softer side to Bad Suns. The crowd burst with exhilaration with one of the band’s older singles, “Transpose.” This catchy, impassioned track proved even better live than on record, igniting yet another fire… not that previous flame had even begun to smolder. The crowd and the night was burning brightly, with energy and excitement fueling an endless inferno.
Bowman explained to the crowd why he and his bandmates hadn’t been back to LA in nearly two years; expectedly, it dealt with the making of the band’s latest album, Disappear Here. He then broke into a string of new tracks, featuring “Daft Pretty Boys,” “Swimming In The Moonlight,” “Off She Goes,” and the beautifully composed, “Maybe We’re Meant To Be Alone.” For the latter, I noticed several people around me, mostly couples, singing to one another, during this slow-burning jam. While “Maybe We’re Meant To Be Alone” may be an under-the-radar Bad Suns tune, I must say, it was the best song of the night. The last song before the encore was the fan favorite, “Cardiac Arrest.” It’s an absolute heart-pounding track with addictive sounds, ardent vocals, and a deep yearning for summer. Afterward, Bowman told the crowd, “Don’t go anywhere now,” and shortly after leaving the stage for a quick respite, the band returned for a three song encore.
They performed two off their debut album, but it was “Heartbreaker,” off the new record that was the highpoint. Perhaps it was because it’s freshest of the trio, but nonetheless, it’s a true gem. It’s a post-breakup track with a killer staccato bridge that electrified the already keen audience. Bad Suns bestowed us with “Salt” as the grand finale. An intricately performed song with strong lyrics to boot, the crowd was united as a strong sensation was in the atmosphere for sure. What occurred to me the most about the show wasn’t necessarily the spectacular 17-track performance by Bad Suns, but how the audience, was completely and utterly mesmerized by the band, their energy, and their songs. At face value, Bad Suns is a fun indie-pop- rock act, but perhaps if you dig a bit deeper at the lyrics, you’ll come to realize there is definitely more than what meets the eye, depending on who’s eye(s) are looking. In the end and even to my great surprise, Bad Suns put on more than just a hell of a performance. It was a validation that music and the love of particular music can just maybe, triumph all. At least for Friday night it surely felt like it.
Disappear Here is available for purchase via iTunes. Bad Suns just wrapped up a headlining tour, but the band will hit the road again in 2017. Head over to the Bad Suns Facebook page for more information.
Bad Suns file photo by Sarah Hess.