Memories of summers past lingered in the audience at Santos Party House as surf-rock quintet Fort Lean sold out its first headlining show in celebration of the 7″ single release for “Sunsick” out on Neon Gold and Black Gold. A packed room was inevitable for these Brooklyn-based boys; they’ve got the big stage sound, the critically acclaimed classic rock hair, Freddy Mercury ‘staches, tats and loads of recognition after their CMJ performances this past fall.
Fort Lean is Will Runge (keyboard), Jake Aron (bass), Zach Fried (guitar), Sam Ubl (drums), frontman Keenan Mitchell and Mitchell’s hair. Fried sways into the sentimental bass line of opening cut “High Definition,” off of their 2011 self-titled EP, as Ubl rumbles in and a shirtless Mitchell wails away, “I’ve been hiding for so long in high definition,” bending his knees and falling to the stage.
Without a break, they blast into “Perfect.” Ubl removes his long-sleeve shirt, and neck bulging Mitchell pounds away into a guitar solo as he spins his kinky curly head in circles. After cooling down with the raw, emotional “Do You Remember,” Mitchell and Aron ask the crowd thumbs up or thumbs down, and then stammer into “All The Lights.”
The intensity gears up. A dancing rip curl of a guitar solo twangs in on “Dreams (Never Come True)” as Mitchell points into the audience with a sly, quirky smile and spews, “Dreams always fall apart/If I had one I’d give you my heart.” Fried bustles into new single “The Precinct,” a calm, lull of emotional dissonance as Runge provides the sorrow and neglect. Someone in the crowd shouts, “Will, take your shirt off! You’re wearing, like, two shirts!” The boys finish with the sweet-sounding “The Mall,” and Runge gives in, finally ditching his red long-sleeve for a T-shirt.