I arrived with photographer David Endicott at Chain Reaction this warm October 23rd night (I know, warm night in October, ridiculous) to a crowded venue full of hipsters and fashionistas all eager for The Mile After Tour. We scheduled an interview with Straylight Run’s Sean Cooper for about halfway through the set and settled in the venue just as Camera Can’t Lie started playing.
Click here to listen to the interview with Sean Cooper, bassist for Straylight Run
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Camera Can’t Lie
This three-piece from Twin Peaks, Minnesota, Eric Arjes, Josh Bendell, and Kyle Lindsay, took hold of Chain Reaction’s tiny stage and rocked it like they owned it. Their showmanship never faltered and by the way they played, you never would have known that these guys were the opener on the bill. They played an awesome acoustic song, something to the effect of “going home,” but most of their songs were more rock-heavy leaned more towards the influence of bands like This Providence and Train. Their song with the chorus “what’s on my mind” was upbeat and had a funky bass groove. The guys were great performers and gave us a great set. And we were only getting started!
Anarbor is a funky four-piece with a dance-y drum beat whose debut EP Free Your Mind I acquired last spring totally impressed me. These young dudes, Slade Echeverria (vox/bass), Mike Kitlas (rhythm guitar), Adam Juwig (lead guitar), and Greg Garrity (drums), had girls were screaming for their songs like “Where the Wild Things Are.” They informed us that “You and I” is about “a dog, Skippy Doo and Shaggy.” They offered their EPs, normally on sale for $5, for as much as a fan could afford. Even if it was just a kiss or a hug. This display of kindness was followed by a sad story: that day, their merch guy “Video Matt” had left his keys to their van while they went to grab food and took off without saying goodbye. It was a sad story and got lots of “awh”s from the crowd (especially the ladies). They closed their set with “Sober” which they clarified is “a song about getting drunk and waking up lonely” and they can’t be too lonely because the crowd was full of young girls clapping and singing along.
I must admit that Lydia was my favorite band of the night. Initially they sounded a bit experimental with lots of noise and reverb. This sextet of guitars (Steven McGraw, Ethan Koozer), bass (Jed Dunning), percussion (Craig Taylor), keys (Mindy White), and a male(Leighton Antelman) and female (Mindy) vocal duet was like a sweet lullaby hovering over impeccably crafted rock songs. When the set started, I had trouble hearing Mindy’s back up vocals, but by the time they played “This Is Twice Now” with Mindy’s haunting old piano intro, the sound guy had the perfect mix and everyone was singing along loudly. Frontman Leighton grinned huge as if this was the first time any crowd had ever loved his music so much. Leighton’s voice reminds me of a more breathy Anthony Green (Circa Survive, The Sounds of Animals Fighting) or a brighter Dave Elkins (Mae) complimented by the angelic airy tones of Mindy. My favorite song of the night was “All I See,” a love song whose vocal parts complimented each other immaculately. The crowd was spellbound by the set and the band earned tons of applause but sadly, after their set was over, more than half the crowd filtered out of the venue not to return.
I have to start off my review of Straylight Run’s set by saying that Straylight was a great band, their releases Straylight Run and their Prepare to be Wrong EP are excellent, and they are still that great band. John Nolan (vocals, keys, guitar), Sean Cooper (bass) and Will Noon (drums) really work as a three piece and even though it was sad not to have Michelle DeRosa’s lovely vocals in the band anymore, it didn’t necessarily feel like the band was lacking. It really broke my heart to see so many people leave after Lydia’s set and not stick around for Straylight. The band played one of my favorites (and one of their most popular) “Existentialism on Prom Night” early on in the set and later thanked the crowd for “staying after ‘Existentialism’” which got a number of chuckles. John Nolan’s vocals seem even more calculatedly strained than normal on songs like “Another Word for Desperate” and “Your Name Here (Sunrise Highway)” had an awesome reverb-filled breakdown. “Ten Ton Shoes” was a folky tune with cool percussion and heavy bass and they rocked all their songs in their (what seemed like a very long) set as a great band should.
My biggest gripe with the set was Straylight’s lack of interaction with the audience. This didn’t hinder the fans from singing along with the songs, but it did make the show feel a little disconnected. It wasn’t until more than halfway through the show that John played a gorgeous acoustic “Mile After Mile” before which he joked sarcastically about how sexy he is with his shirt off (which lead to a fan screaming for him to “Take it off!” of course). Finally, the last song of the set “Hands in the Sky (Big Shot)” everyone’s arms shot up and we clapped through the whole song. It was like the entire set had just come together. I was glad the show finally got this last burst of energy, I only wish it had lasted longer.
We left the venue feeling satisfied and a little sad. It was a great night full of awesome music, I only wish everyone would have stayed to hear Straylight Run. Maybe they would love them.