Term it a team effort. A positive feedback loop. Cosmic alignment.
There are always those moments. As The Chapel’s signature double umbrella of white, starry lights lowered over its patrons and performers, the air felt comfortable. Slowly but surely, a mellow Thursday evening transformed into a lively one, propelled largely by the energy of the crowd.
The night began with Springtime Carnivore as three women — and a male drummer who flew largely under the radar — took the stage, with frontwoman Greta Morgan at the point. Opening their set with “Creature Feature,” the band quickly had the crowd bobbing and swaying under the power of Morgan’s glittery persona. Their set largely featured music off their debut album, Springtime Carnivore, from the lighter “Last One to Know” and “Two Scars;” to the definitive and heavy “Sun Went Black” and final tune, the single “Name on a Matchbook.”
Throughout the set, the instrumental accompaniment was unfortunately obstructive. We only witnessed some of the vocal beauty Morgan displays on the album when she came under the lone spotlight and serenaded the crowd with “Other Side of the Boundary,” under a blanket of disco ball lights and ambient crowd sounds. In addition, many of the unique synthesized sounds that set the record apart did not resurface live, which made most of their songs sound generic, with the same few chords repeating.
For a show on the band’s debut tour, Springtime Carnivore did inspire some excitement for the Generationals and deliver a unique impression as an entity of their own, which will most certainly make audiences take a second look as their touring continues.
After the change, New Orleans-based Generationals were nowhere to be seen for a several minutes while the stage was dim, a suspenseful bass riff crawling across the floor. When Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer finally appeared, two touring musicians in tow, “Gold Silver Diamond” was their opening anthem. They didn’t quite capitalize on their audience’s excitement during this first upbeat lilt, borrowed from their 2014 effort Alix. Nor did the group inspire much energy through the first five songs of their set, which wound up being over thrice that length.
Because of this lack of vigor, we noticed the pesky details: pitchy moments in Joyner’s vocals, that the touring guitarist/bassist and percussionist were carrying the brunt of the show during the first stretch of songs, and the band’s overall collected composure — too calm and collected for a shimmery, whimsical sound that screamed otherwise.
Generationals were running a tight ship. They had brought with them a stage setup involving various cutouts, and opted to use their own prop and stage lighting in lieu of the house lights, as the duo spent most of the evening lit by only two bars of light (equal signs?) appended to their keyboard stands.
The pivotal point of the evening was the segue from “Black Lemon,” a single on which Widmer hit the steel drum (“steel drum” on his keys, of course) perfectly, to “Ten-Twenty-Ten.” By the next track, they’d turned the muted tones into the prismatic ones displayed by their stage lighting — a switch of energy level that was in tandem with the crowd, who clapped in enthusiastic synchronicity to “Put a Light On.”
Slowly but surely, we crossed the threshold from light synth grooves to full-bodied guitar jams, over the course of “Yours Forever,” “Angry Charlie,” “Would You Want Me,” and “Nothing Could Change Your Mind.” We — once again stressing the audience-performer interplay — ended on “When They Fight, They Fight.”
We’d invite Joyner and Widmer if we were throwing a pre-teen birthday party for our hypothetical pre-teen child. Or perhaps an outdoor block party. Or a retirement home celebration. That’s the sort of joy they instill once they’ve worked up a head of steam.
Article by Arnav Chaturvedi and Joanna Jiang