It was a packed showcase at Legion last night with five bands on the bill: Hoop Dreams, Shark?, Night Manager, Life Size Maps and Dive. Things got loud. When it was all over, broken bottles were on the floor, the soundboard had been nearly tipped over and several people had been practically trampled. And it all started out innocently enough. Hoop Dreams play dreamy, loopy indie rock but with big vocals. When singer Max Brooks asks “what is this place?” over and over, there’s weight to the question. Julie Shepherd’s electric violin added an interesting texture to an already well layered set.
Shark? sings a song called “Shark?” and it’s about a swimmer freaking out over a fin he may or may not see among the waves. The dudes had plenty to panic over after frontman Kevin Diamond broke two strings on his guitar in a row. Then his tuner stopped working. Then he ripped the remaining strings out in frustration. Still, it was a solid set and the crowd was getting into it. Surf rock remains to come in on a rising tide and Shark? for sure embrace the party-music aspect of the genre.
Those who came to dance were not let down by Night Manager. The Low-fi heroes combined intricate arrangement with walls of reverb and singer Caitlin Seager’s voice soaring over all. There’s a Best Coast flavor to Night Manager but none of the languid lyrics about boyfriends and pet cats. It’s a little hard to hear just what Seager is singing but in the end it doesn’t effect the outcome, NM is just as danceable and just as enjoyable. They too suffered some technical glitches but didn’t let that stop them from giving a top notch performance.
We’ve told you about Life Size Maps before and all of it was true. They blazed through a set which included two new songs, the whole thing was a very Nirvana meets the Misfits type affair. LSM of course played what are by now standards for the group, “Mechanical Man” and “It’s Leaking” being the prominent stripes on the band’s sleeve. Their alt-rock ambitions have tints of 90s revivalism but this is not a band dwelling on the past. Frontman Mike McKeever’s been really into mechanical sounds lately, case in point when as the introduction to a song he used a car’s metal suspension coil like a triangle. Drummer Jordyn Blakely also used some sort of large metal cog perched on the bass drum as a percussive instrument. She also played on a cracked cymbal, which, if you’ll forgive the pun, is a nice symbol for the band.
The night peaked with Dive. The music itself is straightforward enough: driving indie riffs with plenty of reverb, but the crowd, that’s your free radical. It was a frenzy. Before Dive got even halfway through their set people were pushing and shoving and falling all over each other. Twice the large cymbal on their drum kit got knocked off by the surging crowd. McKeever, who was standing nearby, put it back in place. “This is like My Bloody Valentine on caffeine!” McKeever shouted over the din. Most would probably agree.