What Made Milwaukee Famous, Ra Ra Riot, The Little Ones @ The Glass House on 5/16
Usually, walking into a venue to find it almost empty is a bit of a downer. I guess most people train themselves to believe that a concert is not worth going to unless it’s in a room full of people sweating all over them as they text their friends about what a great time they’re having. But last night at the Glass House, I got an opportunity to watch a handful of bands that might not be packing the house in Pomona, but are still full of promise: What Made Milwaukee Famous, Ra Ra Riot and The Little Ones.
Unfortunately, it looked like I had just missed the opener, Princeton’s set so you’re not going to hear much about them in this post… Go ahead, tell me what a lousy person I am. I can take it.
However, I did get to watch the next act, What Made Milwaukee Famous. This four piece band from Austin, Texas just released an album on Barsuk records, home of moody indie pop rockers like Death Cab for Cutie and Nada Surf.
Wasting little time with pleasantries on stage, vocalist/guitarist Michael Kingcaid and the band launched into the first track, Blood Sweat and Fears. It started off with heavy floor tom pounding by drummer Jeremy Bruch, and gave way to the seething breath of synthesizers courtesy of Drew Patrizi. The sound of this slow opener awakened the crowd and filled the space on the floor where bodies were lacking. The audience was treated to tunes that painted the stage with many different shades of pop. They weren’t afraid to show their sensitive side on radio-ready songs like “For the Birds." At some points in the chorus of “Self Destruct” his haunting lyrics “I wouldn’t self destruct for anybody else” pushed their way to the rafters.
If everything happens the way it should with the new record What Doesn’t Kill Us, they won’t have to worry about fans showing up to the show next time around. Luckily, everyone last night got to see What Made Milwaukee Famous before they get, well, famous.
The next band to play was a group who definitely lived up to their name on stage. Ra Ra Riot, a seven-member group from Syracuse, New York pumped some life into the crowd with a beautifully reckless sound mixed with thrashing chords, catchy vocals and some cello and violin shredding. You would think that after being on the road for four months, these guys would be all out of gusto by their last show. Fortunately that wasn’t the case. Vocalist Wesley Miles led the pack as he bounced around like a pinball off of bassist Matthieu Santos, Cellist Alexandria Lawn and violin player Rebecca Zeller.
By the time The Little Ones set up their gear on stage, a chunk of the audience had left the venue. But that didn’t stop this L.A. based band from giving it their all from beginning to end. They got some good crowd support with a new jam called “Ordinary Song” that would definitely hit the mark for plenty of power pop fans. The band gave a positive aura with their sunny sound, though their mediocre stage presence left a little to be desired through most of their set.
All in all, this was a good low key show at a well known venue that made me glad I didn’t stay home on a Friday night
Critic’s Notebook: The best song of the night was What Made Milwaukee Famous' song “Resistance Street," mainly because it didn’t sound like anything else in their set. This time around Kingcaid’s lofty croon was almost over shadowed by the dynamic musical arrangement of guitar by Jason Davis and the driving bass of John Houston Farmer. It felt like the kind of song that said “we may be catchy but we can still melt your face” as they thrashed wildly on stage.
Personal bias: I hate crowds.
Random Detail: The first thing to get my attention at The Glass House that evening besides the hot, musty air of the Inland Empire was a Toyota hatchback with a giant T.V. screen in the trunk, parked in front of the venue. Clusters of kids circled around the car like vultures and battled each other in one of those rock band games where being a bad ass means you can push multi colored buttons on a plastic guitar faster than all the kids on your block. With all the glowing lights and action going on in the car, at least people were getting some distraction waiting for the show to start.
By the way: Glass House has some mighty fine talent on the on the way including Matt Costa, Delta Spirit , and Jaguar Love, definitely worth getting off the couch for.