Last night was one of those feel good shows. It didn’t matter what type of music you typically listen to, if you went alone or with friends, if you wanted to drink or not… if you were one of the lucky ones to snag a ticket to Saturday night’s sold out show at Varsity, you were going to have a good and fun night.
The fun started right away at 8PM with a local favorite of mine- John Chuck & The Class. JC “John Chuck” Stroebel and Henry “The Class” Donato along with the rest of their band, which remains nameless online, jumped into a set that had the sold out crowd moving within just minute. Their unique brand of funk, hip-hop, rock, and all created the perfect vibe throughout the venue. I loved the way that the band was clearly aware that this was the first time many in the audience were hearing them but wouldn’t let the crowd use that as an excuse. With easy sing-a-long parts throughout their short set, the audience was able to participate which, from personal experience, can lead to a truly memorable experience. I watched in awe as the band commanded the audience without saying a word. Sure, they would explain when the crowd should come in with certain lines of words or certain “la la la’s” but, other than that, the crowd was left to their own devices and to watch everyone get into it without being told a million times to wake up or get moving just proves the power of JC&TC. These guys are one of those bands that I wish I could catch more often and judging by the way they were received by the crowd, there will be plenty more times in the future.
As the stage was cleared and re-set up for the next band, there was a sense of uncertainty as to who may play next. A duo-headlining tour, rumors started flying about who may play first between the two headliners. That’s when the sheet was dropped from an object near the back of the stage and a large brain was revealed (which would later blow my mid when lit up– what a cool display!). Whispers shot through the sold out crowd saying it was Sir Sly. With no bias towards either of the co-headliners, I honestly didn’t care who played first out of the two but it was clear to tell that people were amped for Sir Sly to come on first.
Sir Sly is a trio from Los Angeles, CA. Although fairly new to the music world having just started in 2012 and with only two full length albums out, these guys have truly hit it big in the past year or so. Typical me, I really hadn’t listed to them much prior to last night’s show. Sure, they had one hit song that seems to always sneak onto my go to “Essential Indie Rock” playlist that I always listen to during work when I can’t commit to one album but, other than that, I knew nothing about this band. I was alone in that boat. As soon as the band came out the sold out audience exploded into a roar of applause that really never seemed to let up throughout their eleven song set.
Although a fairly upbeat set overall with music that made you dance, there was this clear sense of sensitivity that radiated from the three musicians. Singer Landon Jacobs spoke about the rough patch he went through when he got divorced and lost his mother in a very short span of time. He talked about the hole in fell in and how music and friends were the only things that pulled him out of it. It was heart-felt, it was real, and it was truly touching. Walking into this show and Sir Sly’s set, I was looking at it as just another concert from a decent band but that speech and his whole vibe of just be yourself and have fun had me sold on this band and made them so much more than just another name on my endless list of bands I’ve seen. The integrity lasted through the entire set, not just his speech and, although the music may not be completely for me, I was captivated throughout the entire thing.
Closing out the already fun and positive night was the one and only Joywave. I’ve seen these guys multiple times now but always find myself coming back due to the amount of fun I have during their sets and the way they interact with the crowd. Things have changed since the last time I saw them back in May of 2016 (okay, maybe I didn’t realize it had been that long since I had seen them last). During that 2016 show there were many jokes cracked and they played their hit song multiple times because, let’s be honest, that’s what people wanted to hear. Things have changed and Joywave, although still fun and quirky, seem to be taking themselves way more seriously and for good reason. Although many things have change, some things have not and one of those things would be the amount of joy that I get from watching and hearing them perform.
Joywave’s indie rock sound is super unique. It takes this almost electronic approach but still stays completely in the indie rock world. Add a live show that’s full of energy and quirky personalities that shine brighter than the lights whizzing around you and you are left with so much more than just an indie rock concert. Their fourteen song set seemed to fly by. They performed a great mix of both old and new songs while slipping some of their radio hits in the middle as to keep people on their toes. I have to be honest, I was a bit shocked when they played “It’s A Trip!” (the song that I think broke this band into the mainstream) third in the set but it kept me, a fair weathered fan, interested and intrigued as to what they would perform next. They sounded perfect, they looked great and the energy stayed at an all time high throughout their set.
Last night may not have been a life-changing show for me but it was a hell of a good time and that’s all I need from a concert.