Little Red is a young quintet from Melbourne, Australia, with a scruffy take on pop songs in a rock band format with some layered synths. After the band set up, lead vocalist Dominic Byrne remained on stage going over guitar parts before it was time to join the others for the strut through the crowd that filled the small downstairs room at Pianos. Their music had the traditional pop song structure with layered harmonies, callbacks and sing along choruses, using instrumental blasts for a big finish. Bassist Quang Dinh played with a snarl while drummer Taka Honda wacked away, smiling with glee. Their bio claims Little Red came together four years ago as “very different musicians” and it shows, not that this is a bad thing. However in performance, this group is still finding out how to bring cohesion to the show. Their album produced by Scott Horscroft (The Temper Trap and Presets), Midnight Remember, has gone gold in Australia so Little Red is looking for an international presence. As Byrne introduced new songs, there was nothing particularly memorable to bring to the party.
Dylan Baldi started alt rock band Cloud Nothings in his Cleveland basement two years ago at the age of eighteen with a computer and microphone—low fi beginnings that were simply created out of necessity. Taking the music on the road required a band, so he put together a local line up that pushes this music to its limits. Baldi now sings his buried vocals with the solid backing of a standard rock line up with bass, additional guitar and drums. He began the set with a quick intro, “Hey we’re called Cloud Nothings and we have a new record coming out and here’s a song off of it”. The full throttle sound included lots of screaming undecipherable lyrics, feedback and no delineated starts/finishes to each song. There was an occasional vocal overlay but these are tightly wound compositions in a fast, frenetic style. There was very little outward communication on stage but it was not necessary, as the group moved as one through the intricate arrangements with grace and power.
L.A. based band Exitmusic is the musical collaboration of married couple Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church. Palladino grew up in New York, playing guitar,writing and recording music since her tweens. Church hails from Winnepeg, where he learned guitar and listened to Radiohead and Sigur Rós. Together their densely populated songs when played live feel more like an assault on the senses, or as their record company likes to promote it, with “apocalyptic overtones”. Palladino’s vocals ride the wave of layered sound, along with Church on guitar, keyboards and percussion for the rest of the band. Their shoe gaze approach to dreamscapes were punctuated by requests for the sound engineer (even for the last song), bypassing the audience standing in front of them. Palladino did acknowledge the crowd once, saying “Thank you guys for coming out to see us. We’re Exitmusic.”
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.