By Blake Mitchem
After getting a chance to speak with Maudlin Strangers over the phone and listening to their debut EP Overdose, I had high hopes for their live performance. The concert was held at The Rebel Lounge which lives up to it's hype. It's a small venue just east of downtown, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in sound and vibe. It was the perfect setting for this stacked lineup.
Alt-dance-pop-rock band IAMWE got the evening started the right way with loads of energy and a crisp sound that resembles bands such as Imagine Dragons or OneRepublic if you ran them through a few more delay pedals. Frontman Nate Huss fills the room with his presence. He's a flamboyant figure, but in all the right ways. Every band needs a frontman with a big personality, but it's not an easy thing to find one who doesn't overdue it; IAMWE found one. At one point, almost everyone in the band grabbed a set of drum sticks and began wildly banging on drums strewn across the stage. It got everyone moving, which is an essential but difficult task for any opener. IAMWE was worth every penny of the twelve-dollar cover on their own.
As the night continued people began shuffling in and out. The room was half packed when Lany took the stage filling the space with 80's synth sounds and larger-than-life tom drum rolls that we've come to expect from some of the newer acts. The 80s are fashionable and Lany new it. They did surprisingly well at filling out the sound with only a keyboardist, drummer and singer who would occasionally play guitar.
Finally, the Maudlin Strangers took the stage. As soon as they began, I knew they would live up to the recordings; it was like a DJ was playing their record. They had the sharp togetherness of a more seasoned band having limited touring experience themselves. I realized something as they played: I got their influences wrong. Initially, I thought there was a scoop of The Black Keys, but it wasn't The Black Keys. It was Arctic Monkeys mixed with Passion Pit.
There was a group of onlookers that had wandered over to the Lany merch table and my friend pointed at them and said, "How are they over there while this is happening on stage?" She was right. Just then they launched into a cover of MGMT's "Electric Feel", confirming my opinions. They turned the venue into a dive bar-like blues club. The sound was dark and bassy, but groovy and smooth at the same time. They weren't a glass of wine, but they weren't a shot of whiskey either: they were an aged scotch on the rocks. They ended the set with "Overdose" the title track off their only EP. I hope to see these talented boys in Phoenix again soon.