By Allyson Bills
The suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania city of Doylestown has gained considerable national attention music-wise over the past eleven years with Circa Survive and Balance And Composure. Superheaven (formerly known as Daylight), comprised of Taylor Madison (guitar/vocals), Jake Clarke (guitar/vocals), Joe Kane (bass) and Zack Robbins (drums), is the third band to come out of the same city currently doing the same with their first headlining tour in support of Ours Is Chrome. Unlike their compatriots coming out of Doylestown who plays melodic rock, Superheaven plays sludged, guitar-driven rock with an ode to the the 1990s in the vein of Nirvana and Helmet. I had an opportunity to catch this band at The Rebel Lounge on a Tuesday night.
Superheaven arrived on stage promptly around 10:05 pm to a crowd a quarter-room full, and started off their set with “I’ve Been Bored,” the first track off Ours Is Chrome, perhaps one of their strongest songs. Then they rolled into “Sponge,” off their album Jar, and “Leach” off the current record effortlessly like they have been headlining tours for years with everyone playing their parts in unison. Robbins was also doing both drum and vocal duties that night, which he did an amazing job keeping the rhythm section alive with Kane, especially on “Leach.” They filled the room with sound, despite the low-key crowd of mostly underage patrons who were pretty quiet throughout the set.
They did not miss a beat at all during their roughly hour-long set with Madison and Clarke trading off lead vocal duties. Superheaven pretty much played through the songs, and did not interact too much with the crowd The crowd learned the reason why after “Leach” because Superheaven were nervous playing their first headlining tour. There was tons of awkward silence between the band and the crowd, which prompted Madison having to repeat, “did I ask you guys how you were doing?” to a crowd that really didn’t know how to respond (or maybe didn’t want to respond) to this question. The crowd still silent, Madison asked another question, “What are you guys doing after this?,” which the crowd answered “drinking,” starting to warm up to the band, though still awkward. Before going into “Knew,” off Jar, Madison told the crowd, “Thanks for playing. I don’t mean to be an asshole.” Madison talked even more in hopes of getting a stronger crowd response, “Sure is quiet in between songs. Everything I say is stupid. This venue (Rebel Lounge) is cool.” It was evident from the crowd that they were here for see some rock, and not necessarily stage banter from Superheaven.
However, the nervous tension between the crowd and Superheaven didn’t stop Madison from getting personal, letting them know songs “Youngest Daughter” and “Hole In The Ground” were about his sister and mother, respectively. I noticed around those two songs is when crowd warmed up to the band with more head-banging, something that was absent at the beginning of their set. It wasn’t until their last song (no encore), “Life In A Jar,” from Jar that I saw the most life from the crowd with the guitar/drum breakdown mid-song.
Superheaven plays rock, and plays it well. What you see from Superheaven is what you get, which is sometimes absent with bands live as they are trying too hard to be “cool” and fit in with a particular scene. This band is the real deal, and the crowd could sense this-even the few people that I talked with after the set - though it wasn’t reflected in their body language. It was my first time seeing Superheaven play live, and I thought they did an awesome job. The chemistry from the band playing-wise is there, which is all that matters to me. They showed their vulnerable side at the show in being nervous, which is normal when one steps outside their comfort zone. My entire teenage life was spent in the 1990s, and Superheaven took me back to this decade.