Live Review: LANY with Transviolet at Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ – 15th November 2016

By on Tuesday, 22nd November 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Los Angeles synthpop trio LANY have made a sudden and impressive appearance onto the pop scene in 2016. Comprising frontman Paul Klein, guitarist/keyboardist Les Priest and drummer Jake Goss, the band have released three EPs in quick succession, starting with ‘I Loved You.’ in June 2015, and followed by last December’s ‘Make Out’ and June 2016’s ‘kinda’. After playing a slew of American summer festivals this year, including Bonaroo, Sasquatch and Firefly, LANY embarked on a headline tour of the U.S., which has just wrapped up with a hometown show at the Fonda Theatre in L.A.

I had a chance to catch LANY just before the end of their ‘kinda’ tour, at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix last Tuesday night. Despite the relative newness of the band, they sold out the 550-capacity Crescent Ballroom, and when I arrived to the gig, I noticed something rather unique about their audience. Like many concert venues in Arizona, the Crescent Ballroom separates younger patrons from punters 21 and over, in an attempt to avoid underage drinking. For this particular show, the under-21 section was unusually large, and it was given priority in the section directly in front of the stage, rather than its usual position off to one side. The apparent majority of the crowd was underage, and their youth was matched only by their buoyant enthusiasm for LANY.

On further examination, the relatively young age of the crowd shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me. LANY are what you might call an Internet sensation, having made a name for themselves via Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature. Their single ‘ILYSB’ has amassed over 27 million Spotify streams as of this writing, and Billboard + Twitter listed them as the number one Emerging Artist after the release of their video for recent single ‘yea, babe, no way’. (Check out the video for ‘yea, babe, no way’ at the bottom of this page.)

Transviolet internal

On this night, LANY were preceded on the stage by New York pop quartet Transviolet, whose own electropop was an appropriate prelude to the main event. Despite singer Sarah McTaggart’s struggle with illness, her voice rang through the bright synths and throbbing bass of her bandmates Judah McCarthy, Michael Panek and Jon Garcia. (McTaggart and Transviolet would miss a subsequent show in San Francisco, but we understand that she recovered in time for the tour’s final date in Los Angeles.) Transviolet’s recent single ‘Future’ was a standout in the opening set, but even better was edgy earlier track ‘Girls Your Age,’ which resonated strongly with the teenaged ladies at the front of the stage.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/b_aQgB7xkjA[/youtube]

Though Transviolet were well-received, it became evident before the end of their set that the punters down front were impatient to see LANY. A near riot ensued when Klein and his colleagues took the stage with an extended instrumental introduction and a visual display that incorporated Whitney Houston’s famous national anthem performance at Super Bowl XXV (way back in 1991, for those of you who aren’t old enough to remember it!). LANY’s tech crew deserve a special shout out here; the strikingly effective visual backdrop was a major highligh of LANY’s live set.

LANY internal

The slick visuals were a perfectly scripted accompaniment to LANY’s clean, sophisticated brand of synth pop, and for their part, the band didn’t stray far from the well-loved recorded arrangements of their songs. Frontman Klein was clearly the focal point of the show, as guitarist Priest was hidden in the shadows on the stage left side, while Goss and his drum kit were situated only slightly more prominently at stage right. Every song was greeted with screams of approval from the largely (but not entirely) female audience, starting with ‘4EVER!’ and ‘yea, babe, no way’. For me, the evening’s defining strong point came early in the set, with the infectiously catchy, deeply existential ode to California, ‘WHERE THE HELL ARE MY FRIENDS’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/5zGahFzBoJk[/youtube]

A handful of rather indistinguishable tracks followed, including the cringe-inducingly trite ‘like you lots’, which admittedly made a stronger connection with the younger crowd. However, Klein was charmingly personable throughout, smiling and making eye contact when girls shouted his name, even accepting a bouquet of roses from a swooning audience member at one point late in the show. LANY made a much stronger impact at the end of the set, finishing with the ethereally dreamy track ‘pink skies’ and the yearning trans-Atlantic romance of ‘current location’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/eD7kpZRGyGs[/youtube]

Hit single ‘ILYSB’ (which, for those of you unaware, is an acronym for “I love you so bad”) had yet to make an appearance on the evening’s itinerary, so there was little suspense as to whether LANY would perform an encore. But the band held their audience in anticipation just a little bit longer, starting the postscript with an extended version of ‘Walk Away’, featuring Klein on keyboards. Everyone on the general admission floor unleashed their dance moves for for the giddy high of ‘ILYSB’ before Klein and his colleagues endeared themselves once more by taking an old-fashioned curtain call and a synchronised bow.

Paul keyboard internal

If you’re a fan of cool, West Coast style synth pop with just a hint of r&b soul, both LANY and Transviolet will fit nicely onto your next playlist. Though both bands appear to be taking a break through the end of 2016, you’re sure to hear more from them next year as their stars continue to rise.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/pVUq8Q7bNUM[/youtube]

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