It’s quite remarkable, really: when they take the stage, the members of the Smith Westerns project a world-weary disinterest that performers twice their age would be hard pressed to match. Everything else about them, however, screams youthful exuberance, from their willingness to strike rock god poses (an additional spotlight that was trained on guitarist Max Kakacek was turned on only during solos) down to the magic marker ‘X’s on their hands. Barreling through a set of ramshackle garage-rock that pointed, unabashedly, toward the monsters of glam, psych and classic rock, the band made no bones about their ambitions. When someone yelled out, “Play the hits!” frontman Cullen Omori coolly snapped back, “They’re all hits”, without missing a beat.
Opening act So Cow took a very different stance toward the audience, though their lo-fi indie-pop was no less rewarding. Playing mostly tracks off of their self-titled singles collection (they also have a new full-length LP, Meaningless Friendly, out on Tic-Tac-Totally), the Irish bedroom-pop act was bouncy, engaging and tons of fun. When frontman Brian Kelly’s glasses started slipping off of his face, he unhesitatingly handed them to a girl in the front row. “Can you put these in a bag or a pocket?” he asked, politely. “Just keep them safe.”
The Smith Westerns