Bands accustomed to performing at small clubs often have their work cut out for them when taking to a larger stage. The sound, the space, the energy, the interaction with each other and with the crowd -- everything's different, and it's a difference that can result in a local band coming across as uncomfortable and flat.
So when locals Lohio and Donora -- groups probably more comfortable in the homey confines of Brillobox -- took the stage at Mr. Small's last night with Tokyo Police Club, I expected some jitters. Fortunately, I was wrong.
Lohio kicked things off with a bigger, more robust sound than I'd heard from them before, thanks in part to an expanded 6-member lineup and the solid rhythm section comprised of bassist Trevor Baker (of Goodnight, States) and drummer Matt Miller (of Pleasure Technicians). Vocalist and guitarist Greg Dutton was engaging and personable, as guitarist Josh Verbanets twitched like a spastic Muppet alongside.
With only three members, Donora didn't quite fill the space in the same fashion, and as I listened to the Cure-like guitar lines being triggered by drummer Jake Hanner, I wondered for a minute just how hard it would be to have an actual guitarist on stage playing them (probably not that hard). But their catchy songs connected with the audience, and both groups invited each other onstage at the end of their sets to sing backup, which leant a friendly feel-good air to the proceedings.
Closing the night, headliner Tokyo Police Club put on an excellent show -- if you haven't caught their blend of indie-pop, proggy breakdowns and Morrissey melancholy, they're definitely worth a listen. The band probably wasn't onstage that long, time-wise, but with so many short songs it did get a bit fatiguing. But, give 'em a break: It was their last night of the tour, and they still packed plenty of energy and swagger. Plus, if I were in their shoes, I'd take the screaming girls as an encouragement to keep playing, wouldn't you?