(CORRECTION: Totally had a picture of the band with old members. My bad. Thanks to reader RKG for pointing it out!)
You Me and Everyone We Know played next and definitely upped the intensity in the Troubadour. It was so funny watching these six goofy looking dudes up on stage (rhythm guitarist Augustine Rampolla had crazy red Shaun White hair and a baby face), tuning their guitars and sound-checking (for what seemed a ridiculously long time) and cracking jokes amongst themselves, only for them to turn into animals when the lights when down and the cheers rose up. They played their faces off, and the lead singer, Ben Liebsch, had a seriously intoxicating stage presence, and impressive Patrick Stump (of Fall Out Boy)-like vocals. The crowd was into it, I was into it, and it made for a really amped up, fun set. Musically, they played solid pop-rock that was upbeat, catchy, and danceable, but also laced with a tasty youthful angst. The band members were really multi-talented, too, and busy traversing the stage to play different instruments. John Farrell played acoustic guitar, keys, trumpet, and tambourine. Guitarist Rico Vigil at one point switched off with Farrell to take on keys, while Rampolla played a snare drum with one hand (holding two sticks between his fingers), while ringing sleigh bells with the other, all while switching off strum out some rhythms. Their songs were dynamic and interesting thanks to a mixture of fast and slow pacing, and loud and soft volumes. They went out with a bang with a song called "Shock and Awe," which was a great f*** you song that made me want to go kick over some trash cans. As they thanked the crowd and became human once more (sweaty, panting humans), I processed what I had just seen with a goofy, stupid smile on my face and a pounding heart.
Following YMAEWK's impressive performance, Gold Motel took the stage and brought with them an entirely different feel. They performed tracks of their album Summer House, a truly outstanding album), and demonstrated their knowledge of the ultimate pop sound. Clad in all black, the band was a cohesive unit, broken up only by the golden locks, skirt, and vocals front-girl Greta Morgan (previously lead singer of The Hush Sound). Hell, the girl's whole aura was golden. Her voice was so resonant and rich and real that you could hold it in your hands, and her effortless, relaxed cadence had me developing a serious girl crush in no time. Granted, mistakes were made (an occasional pitch was off), but there is no denying the nectar in her voice. The crowd, still jittery with the taste of blistering rock on their tongues, was slow to get into the beachy keen pop melodies that Gold Motel offered up. While I was consciously trying to suppress dancing like an idiot, the crowd stood rather motionless with the exception of two hilariously-out-of-place old guys who were dancing up a storm, snapping their fingers, and twirling and spinning without a care in the world (In retrospect, I should have just joined them with hopes of instigating a fat dance party). Thankfully, the crowd eventually loosened up and was happily jiving by the end. Gold Motel performed some of Summer House's standout tracks, including "Safe in L.A." (which was featured in a BNBTV Spotlight), "Summer House", "We're On the Run", and "Stealing the Moonlight"; they also played two songs off their most recent EP Talking Fiction--"Slow Emergency" and "Cold Shoulder." Gold Motel brought their sugar-sweet hooks and melodies to the stage, and for that hour, I swear it felt like summer.
This night was all leading up to a finale performance by HelloGoodbye, and the anticipation was certainly detectable in the crowd. I wasn't sure of what to expect beyond my (admittedly fond) high school memories of "Shimmy, Shimmy Quarter Turn" and "Call N Return". However, I was pleasantly surprised by what seemed like a more mature sound. The teenage roots were still there, but it seemed more like evoking old memories rather than being amidst the full-fledged siege of hormones and high school. The guys literally rocked their hipster/nerd glasses off--they had to quickly push them up from the tip of their sweaty noses on more than one occasion. They talked a lot on stage and were cynical and funny in that they were wholly aware of their inability to say anything wrong because: one, they are rich and famous; and two, they are rich and famous. While this may seem shallow, I found their self-awareness pompously endearing, if that's possible. But I digress. Their music was catchy and well-executed; I found their sound likable and not overly whiny. Their tracks off their most recent album, Would It Kill You?, were reminiscent of The Format (which is a HUGE compliment in my book), partly because of the trombone that was featured in some of the songs. They played "Shimmy Shimmy Quarter Turn", and I may or may not have screamed like a little (see: teenage) girl. Moral of the story is their music is fun and they don't take themselves too seriously, and I can dig that. (Check out Lauren Novik's interview with them here)
Overall, the show was a nice collection of bands who each offered something different in the realm of pop-rock. From the powered up garage rock of Now, Now, to the amped-up old-Fall-Out-Boy-like sounds of YMAEWK, to sunny, cheery pop tunes from Gold Motel, to HelloGoodbye's tongue-in-cheek, energizing aesthetic, it was an experience to make you leave the Troubadour dancing shamelessly and bobbing your head to an invisible beat.
Check out this lineup next on January 25th at The Cambridge Room at the House of Blues in Dallas, TX, and be sure to check out the bands' other tour dates here: