COURTESY OF PRETTY ACTIVITY
It was so hot that everyone was sweating through their pants Friday night when The Subjects, Wild Light and Tapes ‘n Tapes took to the stage at the Rock and Roll Hotel - or so Tapes ‘n Tapes frontman Josh Grier kept insisting.
“Sweat! Sweeeeaaaaat!” bassist Erik Appelwick backed him up. Doubtlessly, the room was sweaty by the time the Minnesota indie band played for the sold-out audience. Openers The Subjects and Wild Light had certainly warmed up the crowd.
The Subjects came out on stage with four out of five members sporting disputably ironic facial hair and two wearing truly enviable plaid. Coupled with cat (painted with his mouth against the mic on Matt Iwanusa’s silver, sparkly bass drum,) the audience knew some serious indie rock was about to happen.
A lot of their (somewhat belated) set felt like a less polished, more genuine Vampire Weekend. They took the good parts of the pretentious college rock band - call and response harmonies; driving, complex percussion; thoughtful lyricism - and brought it into the garage. That’s not to say their sound isn’t complete; the band is technically a foursome and had brought another member along to help cover all the instrumentation, and at one point bassist Dave Sheinkopf didn’t have time to put down his bass before sitting down at the synth. The only problem with their set was that it was so short.
Wild Light picked up where The Subjects left off in support of their album due out Tuesday, “Adult Nights.” The band channeled a pop-rock sound that was easy to tap your feet to. Band members Timothy Kyle, Seth Pitman and Jordan Alexander were dressed in shades of Rufus Wainwright and seemed to spend the set jockeying for control. Each took turns on the mic, at a slew of instruments and on different parts of the stage. The three did an excellent job in rotation and seemed to find a happy balance of power in all the switching around. Drummer Seth Kasper reliably pounded out the beat with passion.
At its best, Wild Light’s set took on a bit of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. Something about it sounded like the ocean, but not the sunny beaches of the West Coast. The band’s single, “California On My Mind,” would more than clear up that misconception; the lyrics spell out a list of California cities they could do without. Their sound had more to do with the rocky, windy beaches of New England where they hail from.
When headliners Tapes ‘n Tapes stepped up, the full-to-capacity crowd was amped. Through their first couple songs Grier’s singing was nearly inaudible, but the problem was quickly corrected when he shouted to the Hotel’s sound technician that he couldn’t hear himself.
“Also, my throat is scratchy,” he added. “Can you do something about my scratchy throat, Drew?”
Tapes ‘n Tapes fed off the audience’s enthusiasm and played a solid 16-song set, despite not taking the stage until nearly midnight. By their third song, “Headshock,” off their latest album, “Walk It Off,” the band had clearly hit their stride. The band played selections off of their two full length albums, their most recent and their full-length debut, “The Loon.” They hit nearly every crowd favorite, including “Insistor” and “Cowbell.”
They also played two new songs, to the audience’s delight. Maybe it was the heat in the room, but something about both felt almost tropical. Whatever it was, by the end of the last song in their set, “Jakov’s Suite,” Tapes ‘n Tapes had kept the audience captivated by the heat that a band from such a cold place created.