Bad Suns | 11.09.14

live bad-suns_75bFrom the start, you could tell this was a band in the truest sense of the word: a collection of passionate, talented musicians all in sync.

live Bad-Suns_300The Gothic, Englewood, Colo.

Although they were touring in direct support of New Politics, Bad Suns played a headline-worthy, 11-song, hour-long set before a packed room on an unseasonably warm night. While it’s true Denver crowds are exceedingly polite, the enthusiasm for Bad Suns ran high. The black-clad members of the California quartet—Christo Bowman (vocals, guitar), Ray Libby (guitar), Gavin Bennett (bass), and Miles Kottak (drums)—wordlessly took the stage and began “Transpose” from their debut CD Language &Perspective (out earlier this year on Vagrant). What followed was an entrée-sized offering: all of the songs from the album. From the start, you could tell this was a band in the truest sense of the word: a collection of passionate, talented musicians all in sync, graciously sharing their art. There was no posturing or posing, no trying too hard to look hip or cool or be the next big thing: just four guys uniting a sold-out venue in harmony.

It didn’t take long—under a minute, easy—before the richness in Bowman’s voice was apparent. He soared and roared, hit the high notes and let his words drip caramel-sweet. “Take My Love and Run” was a good showcase for his talents, and the band’s as a whole. The singer shed his leather jacket and took a short break from the guitar before addressing the crowd, asking “Are you guys ready to have some fun?” Maybe not the most original of greetings, but we were, so that’s all that mattered.

The upbeat and inviting “Dancing on Quicksand” and “Matthew James” followed. While we let the groove move us, Bowman came along as well, dancing and swiveling in place behind his mic stand. (Trust me: It was endearing.) “We Move like the Ocean” was lovely as always, and “Pretend” went over equally well. Only “Learn to Trust” rang less than true, its atonal lines not quite meshing on stage. Still, that is little criticism for a band otherwise in full command of a venue. A less muddy mix and it would have been a near-perfect set.

As with many Bad Suns songs, “Sleep Paralysis” featured uplifting “bah bah” vocal sounds. Despite this being one of the more laid back offerings from the disc, Bowman took the opportunity provided by a musical interlude to do a bit of crowd surfing. After “Rearview,” he proclaimed, “What an incredible night it’s been, Colorado,” and revealed the “bad news”: only two songs remained. Radio single “Cardiac Arrest” came first, greeted by countless smartphones held high, video recorders running.

Bad Suns closed out their set with “Salt”—“Hope you brought your dancing shoes”—a buoyant and catchy sing-along, and then promised to see us again in the New Year. Although most of the crowd stuck around for the headliner, my night had ended perfectly. As I left the venue, Bad Sun lyrics swirled in my head, capturing the mood of the night: “Tonight won’t ever end/ can we pretend, pretend, pretend/ I don’t want this to end/ so I’ll pretend, pretend, pretend.”

Before Bad Suns was Somekindawonderful, a radio-darling band from Ohio that would have been instantly forgettable had it not been so godawfully bad. From the moment they took the stage to the time they (thankfully) left it, they came off as an inexperienced local band trying way too hard to be as cool as they were in their heads…and failing miserably. From the lead singer’s ridiculous attire (a t-shirt AND a black leather jacket AND a white flak jacket vest AND black bicycling gloves AND a black knit cap), to the butterflies he and the female backup singer/tambourinist (really: do you need to know anything more?) made with their hands, to the come-hither hand signals she fed him, the performance was a joke; nothing more. I’ve never had psychic powers, but I can see into the future—and this band is not in it. | Laura Hamlett

Photos by Ashby Walters. View photo album.

Bad Suns set list

Take My Love and Run
Dancing on Quicksand
Matthew James
We Move like the Ocean
Learn to Trust
Sleep Paralysis
Cardiac Arrest

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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