Before the show we interviewed Brandon from Eye Alaska here. Check it out here: Interview with Brandon of Eye Alaska
At House of Blues in Anaheim on June 11, The first band to take the stage was A Sound Aside. These guys were very wholesome-looking white-boy foursome with the lead singer dawning a super-scene scarf. A rowdy high-school-age fan club was already ready to rock out at the sight of this otherwise unknown band and when they started playing, I could see why. They reminded me of The Fray with the southern piano rock and vocals, but their music was generally more upbeat and pop with the occasional heavy guitar. The solid harmonies on “Perfect Thing to Say” got the crowd clapping and on “Summertime” the guitars were shredding! They closed with powerpop sing-a-long “You’re the One For Me” to which the crowd knew all the words.
The next band up was a band called Stereofix and suffice it to say they were a little difficult to watch. Their sound was a rip-off of The Killers, complete with super-scene leather-clad frontman, shakey vocals, and an eerie electro drum machine. Ray, the singer and guitarist of Stereofix performed while making awkward movements replicating jazzercise routines. They had keyboard in the tracks, but no keyboardist and I couldn’t understand the lyrics at all, but we can blame that on House of Blues acoustics. I thought that maybe I could better appreciate the music better on the album and while it is a bit better without all the distractions of their performance, I’m not sure that’s a compliment.
Colorist, up next, was a great and unexpected surprise. The first thing I noticed was their girl drummer! She also sung back-up vocals so I was doubly impressed. Their sound was dance rock, heavy on the snare, a solid dash of guitar with a little pinch of folk. It was extremely hard to name comparisons, which is definitely a good thing for this foursome. To try to give you an idea, they’re like Like Matt & Kim meets Slow Club – a little dance, a little folk. Groovy electro pop-rock made an appearance on “Fire Out.” “Yes Yes” displayed echoey vocals similar to Dear and the Headlights or Death Cab for Cutie with little piano tinkling. These guys announced that they’re recording a new EP and it couldn’t come soon enough. Their newest unreleased track entitled “Wishing Wells” was so much fun. There was a hint of dance rock a-la Hot Hot Heat with lyrics like “I found the beat to your heart and I’ve been dancing to it night and day” and dummer Maya rocked her vocal solo. On the song that went something like, “I don’t wanna fall in love,” the harmonies were GORGEOUS. It reminded me of something that you might find on the Paper Heart soundtrack—sweet and delicate. The last song had a xylophone and bass beat intro and featured Maya’s light airy whispers with “Hey where are you going? We won’t go home.” I loved these guys and I think they’ll go far.
Bad Rabbits, the only band from out of state (Boston, MA) I wasn’t too crazy about, considering all the praise they got from Brandon’s Eye Alaska in a pre-show interview. They were funky, groovy, electro rock, but mostly they seemed just retro. They were rockin’ the falsetto Michael-Jackson-style and had choreographed synchronized dance moves for the stage. Their soul rock to me really just sounded like the theme from The Ghostbusters.
Then came Eye Alaska, the stars of the night. Their sound was much harder than I expected. There were shredding guitars, badass drums, even some screaming with sweet pop vocals. Comparisons were difficult to draw because one moment they’d sound like The Cab, the next Our Lady Peace, then Chiodos or Gym Class Heroes—a definite eclectic mixed bag of genres. While Brandon Wronski in person is a quiet and smart intellectual, the minute he stepped on stage he transformed into this commanding presence, a totally different animal. The band was joined on stage by a small orchestra who dawned black and white face paint, exacerbating the cinematic element of the band.
The Hip Hop beat influence was present in songs like “This Life Start To Question,” which included an almost rap interlude, while violins gave each song an element of cinema, creating a story. After having worn a knit hooded garb for the first portion of the set, he traded it for a fox pelt (watch out for PETA!), which he wore on his head and delved into a song that seemed to represent the “struggle montage” of the story. “Mutiny Off the Aleutian Coast” was my favorite song of the night. With a big arena sound and borderline noise rock, this part of the set showcased Brandon’s vocals and the song lead into heavier rock with guitarist Cameron Trowbridge rocking the eff out.
Hands were pumping in the air for “American Landslide,” but in general people seemed to not know what to do with themselves. To bounce their hands or mosh or dance? Little of everything? This was the effect of a sound dedicated to being genre-less and while it did at times seem a little overwhelming or confusing for the genre-trained ear, it was definitely enjoyable and made for a good show. For “My Soul My Surrender” even dudes singing the lyrics! They closed with their single “Walk Like a Gentleman and everyone was singing. I commend them completely for defying expectations, trying something new, and putting on an amazing live show.
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