Two hours before doors were set to open, a line was already forming outside The Observatory Santa Ana. A group of dedicated fans wound their way around the entrance, twisting and turning through a maze of gates. Blankets and towels were out in full force as fans braced themselves against the cold breeze, eagerly awaiting a night that was guaranteed to impress.
With a new album set to release on February 9th, British alt-rock sensations, The Wombats, had leapt “across the pond” for the U.S. segment of their, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life Tour. Accompanying the band were incredibly talented up-and-coming groups, Nation of Language and Future Feats.
The Brooklyn based trio, Nation of Language, opened the night with an memorable performance. The band boasted a unique musical perspective that blended forms of synth-based pop and a new wave sound with hints of 80’s throwback inspiration. Their signature keyboard-driven electronic rhythm was a recognizable staple to fans, most of whom are in tune with the tech-driven modern age. Yet, Nation of Language has set themselves apart from the rest of this genre by perfectly complimenting their modern keyboard synth with their semi-throwback rhythm and the deep and flowing vocal signature of lead singer, Ian Devaney.
Future Feats were up next. However this band, with their powerful story of overcoming adversity and impeccable live show, are fully deserving of their own special segment. Thus, they have a section all to themselves at the close of this review. (See Below)
Meanwhile, with the three different bands straddling a range of musical genres, the “alt-loving” side of fans were starting to show. There was a visible buzz of excitement and a roar of applause as The Wombats made their way to the stage. This cheering only intensified as the band jumped straight into new territory with a song off their new album. Titled, “Cheetah Tongue”, this catchy tune was a dance-worthy way to kick things off. The Wombats followed this up with a series of fan favorites, such as “Jump Into the Fog”, and “Pink Lemonade”. The setlist was packed with both new and old songs, a delight for fans who have enjoyed watching The Wombats grow and flourish ever since their formation 15 years ago (2003).
The band finished the night with a bang. An encore consisting of classics such as “Greek Tragedy” and new favorites such as “Turn” left fans singing lyrics back to themselves and scrolling through their phones, marking their calendars for London travel plans or checking for the next time the foursome will arrive stateside and bring the dance party to them.
Stand-Out-Band Highlight: Future Feats
Live. Laugh. Love. While a little cliche, these factors are, in essence, the key to a happy and successful existence. With music as in life, this trifecta also holds true. At least, that’s what most believe. However, Josh Quinn is not most people. For the lead singer of the pop-rock band, Future Feats, the rock-star life didn’t come easy. Rather, success and musical inspiration were peppered with obstacles as he battled not only the demons that haunted his innermost self, but those that worked to crush the loved ones around him. The struggle with substance abuse, the pressure of producing a debut album, and the pain associated with a heartbreaking divorce was a monumental weight to shoulder and definitely didn’t constitute the glitzy pop-star life that can be easily wrapped up into a three-word cliche statement. Thus, it’s no surprise that the music produced by this band has a refreshing authenticity and sincerity that seems to hit the very core of listeners’ emotions. Such music is so deep that it’s hard to imagine matching it’s heartfelt aura with the glamourous and flashy nature of live performance. However, Future Feats seem to have achieved the impossible: overcoming and conquering the cliche.
The energy of this Los Angeles based band was unreal as all five members seemed to feed off the crowd’s excitement during their performance at The Observatory Santa Ana. Starting off with “Nights Like Tonight”, a song off their debut album, the band progressed into uptempo favorites such as “On Diamonds” and their first released single, “Cities In Wonder”. Each song held a special past inspiration or life story. This was made clear through the audible passion at which Quinn sang every verse.
Yet, there was something distinctly special about these songs. Interestingly, although heavy with meaning, the lyrics didn’t weigh the listener down. On the contrary, they seemed to set them free. The uptempo beat was invigorating and it was clear that fans could have danced and sang along for the entire night. As the band ran across stage, jumped off speakers and threw down some fun dance moves and jokes, a member of the audience yelled out a declaration that perfectly captured the closeness of the shared moment between artists and fans. At the top of their lungs, a man screamed, “I love you!”. Without missing a beat and letting out a shocked but heartfelt “awww”, Josh gestured to the crowd and responded in kind: “I love you. No I mean it. We’re Future Feats and we f***ing love you so much. Thank you for participating and getting hit with water and being cool with it. You guys f***ing rock. Thank you so much”. While it’s easy to appreciate a band like Future Feats for their obvious musical talents, one of the most touching and rewarding parts of attending their live show was seeing and experiencing the sincere gratitude they held for not only their fellow bands, but for their fans as well. They were talented. They were real. They won all our hearts that night. That’s what makes a great band, no cliches in sight.
By: Jessica Nakamoto