Drastically different but equally likable, opener The Midnight Slander and headliner X Ambassadors both killed it at this past Spot Night.
The opener’s popular sound attracted many friends of Case Western Reserve University student Al Rodriguez.
At first, The Midnight Slander was pretty reminiscent of The Black Keys with its upbeat, heavier style and blues and country influences. Singer Dave Conner’s glasses slipped down to the tip of his nose multiple times during the show as he leaned over the microphone, filling out each note of “On My Side.”
Later, their sound transformed when they sang “Ohio,” which was very similar to what a folky version of The Mowgli’s “San Fransisco” might sound like. “Old Chicago” was a foot-stomping, fast-lyric song reminiscent of Mumford & Sons with its flushed guitar strumming and bass backing.
The Midnight Slander ended their time slot with “Tennessee,” a funkier, Southern-rock song with blaring keyboard notes. Many of their songs were centered around places in the United States, and the rural lyrics brought in a nice homey touch to the energetic beats.
Lyrically, the band drove away from the typical folky love song, and instead took a road trip through America with fresh takes on old places.
Still, The Midnight Slander’s sound wasn’t something that was entirely new. Some of their techniques definitely derived from other bands, and instrumental solos were not all that complicated or creative. Despite this, their stage presence and high-paced performance gained a hefty audience that was (for the second week in a row) larger than the headliner’s crowd.
…though not by much. The slightly smaller audience size said nothing about X Ambassadors’ show. An edgier band with more risk-taking in their tunes and a little less excitement, they brought a strange but interesting style to the stage. Smooth and slower, X Ambassadors’ songs never turned dark.
As singer Sam Harris whooped out an incredible range of notes, his brother keyboardist Casey Harris whirred shaking rhythms in the background. These two modern elements intensely juxtaposed with drummer Adam Levin’s tribal beats and guitarist Noah Feldsuh’s steady looming notes.
During “Love Songs Drug Songs,” S. Harris whipped out a saxophone and honked out a beat that carried on loop throughout the rest of the layered song. This looping effect was used again later, once in a song to get a choir-like harmony—except with just one man.
Actually, S. Harris was such a highlight of their show that his drawn-out ending to one of the band’s songs brought much of the crowd to clap and shout out approval after particularly soulful repetitions. This ending consisted of him belting out the phrase “I’m not ready to” at higher and higher frequencies, building both tension and the ever-present question, “Is it going to end yet?… Okay, now is the song over?…”
Personally, I don’t like the feeling of a song that should stop but has yet to see the redlight. I might have been the only one who felt this way; the rest of the crowd loved his vocals during this song ending.