Although the line-up of the night read “more” next to the headliners The Neighbourhood and Lovelife in that minimizing way opening acts are often announced, the term turned out to take on a whole new meaning as Rioux stepped on stage with an awkward yet extremely pumped energy. Rioux refers to Michigan native Erin Michael Rioux who yesterday night sang the lead vocals and alternatively played electronic drums and the guitar, accompanied by friend colossal drummer and a saxophone player sitting in the shadows. The foursome blasted an electro vibe through a half empty Glasslands – a shame for everyone who missed out. Reminiscent of the jerky clashing feel of Crystal Castles’s music and placing himself in the wake of Gold Panda’s intense take on electronic music, Rioux is a diamond in the rough. A fourth member of this ephemeral band can be counted, since apart from the occasional saxophone and electric guitar, all melodic components were played by Rioux’s computer – a musical R2D2 of sorts. Hence the importance of rhythmic elements in Rioux’s music: with conventional drums and electronic ones, the sound is intense, catchy and engrossingly fitful. However the saxophone is not to be overlooked: the second track was a twofold saxophone solo (tenor and soprano) and played to that mixing of genres Wax Taylor, Bakermat or S.Mos manage to create so well. The juxtaposition of a jazzy sound with rough electro ones is a distinct feature of Rioux’s music.
Lovelife is definitely a growing gig since only a month ago they were performing as the opening for both Mr Little Jeans and Alex Winston at Santos’ Party House. The 5 man British band immediately set a new mood contrasting with the punchy jumpiness of Rioux: all clad in black and with a vine of black leather roses wreathing around the mic, it wasn’t that obvious that the name of the band came from their being infatuated with the realm of the living as frontman Leonard Newell claimed. Lovelife started out with the track “Brave Heart” – from their new EP El Regreso – which opens with synth notes drawn out in a majestic way before letting epic drums break out and the three harmony vocals sound out with lyrics about heartbreak. Although the beat had a much appreciated potency and the track had something of a chillwave hit, the song was too obviously rigged to create a dramatic ambiance – a ubiquitous feature of the band’s set. The same could be said of the two following tracks “Heart Sick” and “Me After You” which both feature catchy drums but some overly pop feel in the lead vocals which tended to make the music sound somewhat like teenage material rather than convey the sense of musical depth it seemed the band was trying to go for. However compared to the studio versions of these tracks, the live performance did render the songs much more poignant, namely thanks to an enthralling base line. From their new EP they also played “I’m No More” – available for free download – which definitely stood out. Starting with spaceship sound effects bouts of crazy drumming the track goes on to morph into a Scissor Sister’s sounding song with high-pitched vocals. Not only was the structure of the song more entertaining for its being irregular and surprising, the vocals conveyed an old school feel as if the Beegees had come back darker and computer-savvy. After the extremely 80s “She Makes It Look So Easy”, the band wrapped up their show with an upbeat “Tonight” also featured on their new EP. All in all, this dark-clad band is a good gang of sober performers yet very sentimental ones.
Despite Lovelife’s melancholic music, the crowd had very much grown as the California boys of The Neighbourhood stepped on stage sporting groovy black jean vests emblazoned with the band’s logo on the back. Contrasting with the pure electro vibe of Rioux but in the wake of Lovelife’s hard rock influence, the Neighbourhood started rocking out with the track “Let It Go”. This opening song epitomized the essential contrast at the core of the band’s music: the drums boomed and the guitars and base were very distorted while the lead vocals rang out with a distinct pop quality, rounded and suave – a contrast I personally viewed as a paradox. However the crowd cheered on as the band’s hit “Female Robbery” followed up – poignant but it unfortunately the sound was over saturated. They then played “Leaving Tonight” purportedly for the last time – the live version was much louder and rock’n’roll than the studio track – before going on to play a new exclusive track whose catchiness was promising. After having played “Wired” and gotten Glasslands positively psyched, The Neighbourhood headed on to the grand finale with the infamous “Sweater Weather” – sang with such dexterity that references such as Matisyahu came to mind.