“I can’t see you,” replied Nini Fabi, frontwoman of HAERTS, as fans screamed accolades at her after the band finished “All The Days” last night at the Bowery Ballroom. HAERTS had a minimalistic stage set-up with only the essentials: their instruments and a light bulb placed on the middle of the stage with a reflective cone wrapped around it. While this tends to be the case for opening acts—the simple set up, not the light bulb—this simplicity seemed to play to the strength of HAERTS. With nothing to distract the audience, the New York band played a mesmerizing set replete with tantalizing musical breakdowns and mesmerizing vocals. They didn’t need any flashy extras as they played their (all too short) set, because HAERTS were in their element. Emanating like light themselves, the band played such a solid set that even when Fabi’s microphone cord disconnected during her last high note, they still finished like pros.
HAERTS’ sanguine indie-pop paved the way for CMJ Marathon alum Pacific Air to truly entertain, with lead vocalist Ryan Lawhon’s sweet vocals and even sweeter dance moves. They never faltered while playing, even with the amount of dancing taking place on stage. Still on the high of releasing their debut album, Stop Talking, just a week ago, the band’s theatrics only added to their vibrant synth-pop sounds. For brothers Ryan and Taylor Lawhon who make up the crux of the band, it would be expected that they play well together. But it’s when this duo become a fivesome with their live touring members that they really shine. The chemistry on stage was evident as they looked to each other while playing, smirks growing across their faces. Pacific Air was all smiles and greased lightning dances moves.
All that was just a build-up to Aussie band Atlas Genius. Though didn’t have quite the same dance style as Pacific Air, they brought a powerhouse performance nonetheless. The band walked on stage to never-ending cheers from the audience and immediately erupted into “Symptoms” from their debut album, When It Was Now. The Adelaide band were playing their second show in a row at the Ballroom, and sounded as if fatigue wasn’t a word in their vocabulary. Keith Jeffery seemed to be running a half-marathon on stage. Unrelenting in energy, he would play a guitar solo on one end of the stage, and suddenly be on the opposite end singing with the crowd.
As tight as an Atlas Genius performance is with the full band, they do just as well when Keith Jeffery plays alone acoustically on stage. “It’s time we got intimate,” he said as he began to play “All These Girls,” much to the delight of the audience. With a single spotlight on him, Jeffery played the crowd favorite with a calming serenity that put them in a daze, only to be pulled out of it by the Earth shattering “Don’t Make A Scene.” There’s not much room for witty banter in an Atlas Genius set because the’re too busy ransacking your brain with their summery guitar riffs and driving bass lines. As they encored with “Electric,” Keith Jeffery finished the song with his signature jump-kick off his brother Mike’s drum set, putting Danny Zuko and his dance moves to shame.
Photos by Emily Korn.