San Francisco band A B & The Sea played an energetic short set at Portland’s Mississippi Studios Monday night. The band hopped on the small stage just a few minutes after 9 pm, calling keyboardist David Hunt, who was lagging, to join them. The crowd, which grew a bit after the first couple songs, was unfortunately meager and quiet. I was almost a little embarrassed at the tiny crowd because Portland is known as such a music-mecca, but it was late on a Monday night, so all are forgiven.
Those who didn’t make it, however, missed out on a short but lively performance by the charming five-piece. I had already enjoyed listening to the band’s Boys & Girls EP, but I wasn’t sure if these Californians would stick out in the sea of retro indie-pop in the end. Live, I was astonished by the band’s tight sound, wonderful harmonies, and playful energy. Frontman Koley O’Brien used between-song-breaks to attempt to rev up the small crowd, which I have to say, was quite adorable considering the circumstances. Every member sounded pitch-perfect and Joe Spargur’s occasionally bluesy guitar added a little edge to the shiny, California-pop tunes. A B & The Sea have a wide rang of sound influences (I hear a little Vampire Weekend, The Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Paul Simon..) but despite those recognizable cues, they deliver a fresh sound and cheerful songs that would get people dancing in a bigger crowd.
The band played songs from their short EP and threw in a couple extra for good measure. Everyone looked sharp, especially O’Brien in a blazer with suave hair, and they almost seemed out of place at such a tiny venue. It will take them some time to gain the fan-base they need, but these guys have the skills, the songs, and the charm and stage presence to hit it big. By the time they closed with their should-be smash hit “Bone Dry,” I was convinced that I would be seeing a lot more of this band in the near future. I am excited to see where they go and I can’t wait to see them again in front of a bigger and more energetic crowd.