I won’t say I was feeling pessimistic as I walked into The Armory on Tuesday night but I also won’t say that I was super excited. With the temperature edging on 100 degrees, sitting at home in my air conditioning sounded like a perfect way to spend my evening but I knew I had a show and, after a couple of nights off, I needed a show. On top of that, I knew nothing about the two acts performing. When I looked up the headliner, I saw the words “SoundCloud” and “‘Euphoria'”. Neither of those words did it for me but there I was, standing in the hangar-like venue just waiting to see what the night would bring me. Not quite bushy-tailed but also not far from wide-eyed.
The sole opener of the night was Hether, the solo project of Paul Castelluzzo who came in the form of a band on Tuesday night. Within the first track from this band, I was hooked. Their sound was so intriguing and so all over the place yet so cohesive and perfect. The first couple of songs had a very California surf-punk vibe to them which is fitting being that Paul was raised in San Diego and is now based in Los Angeles. As I settled into this California surf-punk vibe, the band changed everything and gave me more of a Strokes retro-rock vibe. Then, after just a couple of songs, the band switched it up again and started to give me something akin to jam band rock. Like I said, it was all over the place and I loved it.
Unfortunately, I feel like their sound either went over the young audience’s heads or it just didn’t grab the rest of the audience like it did for me. The excited and young crowd seemed to spend the majority of Hether’s opening set talking and drinking rather than paying attention to the stage. There were a few moments where the band got a sense of appreciation from the audience but those moments seemed to have little to do with the music and more to do with the minimal but poignant banter from Paul. The largest applause was when Paul told the audience that the next song they were going to play was a love song. He went on to explain to the audience that both he and the drummer had been dumped while on this tour. I’m not sure why that was what got the loudest roar of applause from the audience as it kind of broke my heart but at least the audience proved that, although I may have not caught onto it, they were paying attention to Hether.
The changeover between Hether and headliner Dominic Fike felt quick but I think that was more due to me being completely enthralled by what was going on around me. Although I often complain about shows where I truly feel my age (Tuesday night was one of those), I loved watching the literal kids around me get excited. I may not have known what was going to happen next but the audience definitely did and, like at so many other shows, it was impossible not to get wrapped up in all of it.
As the house lights went down and the stage lights went up, the excited chatter in the audience changed to ecstatic screaming. I mean, the volume from the crowd alone was deafening and, as Dominic started his set with “How Much Is Weed?”, I felt like there were moments where the crowd could be heard easier than the actual music.
Like I mentioned, when I initially looked Dominic Fike up online just to get a slight feel for what I was getting into, I was less than impressed. Everything I could find about him was regarding his role in the hit show ‘Euphoria’ which I have yet to watch. In terms of his music career, most of what I saw mentioned SoundCloud. Pair that with the few facial tattoos that Dominic has and I thought I had this kid pegged. I can’t believe how wrong I was. although I don’t think his music is something that I would listen to on a daily basis, like the music of Hether, he had me completely captivated.
Think Rex Orange County with a bit more of a Justin Bieber popstar vibe. His music was clearly full of heart but, more importantly, it was full of thought. The composition of each of his songs had me a bit stumped. It’s not that they were complicated but more that this was not at all what I expected based on the little research I did and what I saw in the audience. It filled my heart to know that all of the kids in the audience actually knew good music and they had led me right to it without knowing it.
Out of all of the songs he played, “Double Negative (Skeleton Milkshake)” seemed to hit me the hardest. There was just something so catchy and fun yet so well polished and rehearsed about it. That’s not to say the other songs didn’t come off as perfect because they absolutely did. Really, the whole set felt so perfect but with an organic vibe and an attitude from Dominic which made it feel like he was just born to do this.
Dominic Fike isn’t even 30 and his audience seemed to be much younger than that. Both of those things point to what I think will be a super long and fantastical career for Dominic. I may not have been super stoked as I walked into the Armory on Tuesday but, as I left, I could only think about how excited I was to see where Dominic goes from here.
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