Apt/Lewis, Provo's hip hop duo. Photo: Alex Pow
I was looking forward to this show for a long time. Eyes Lips Eyes used to be located in Provo for a few years as Elizabethan Report before they relocated to LA and changed their name. They released their first LP, Blue Red, in Provo that night before holding a show release in LA at The Roxy on September 16. Seve Vs. Evan has been a favorite in Provo for many years, though their shows are now few and far between. Red Orange is relatively new, and I’ve loved the few Apt and Chance Lewis shows I’ve been to, so I was sure I wouldn’t be disappointed there.
Chance Lewis started off by saying he’d have a panic attack if there was too much empty space in front of the stage, and a few Apt/Lewis fans and friends started yelling, “That’s the panic coming!” which is one of the opening lines on Apt’s song, “Apt Is The New Nervous.” It worked, though; plenty of people timidly approached the stage, and the rap duo started their set. After a few songs, including “Proof of Concept,” where I got my very own shout-out, people finally seemed to be getting into it and moving around. Apt and Chance both make a lot of references to Provo culture and include other local artists and bands in their songs; Apt samples a guitar riff from a New Nervous track in one song and has Cody Rigby from Back Chat––another local band––singing on another. Most of the time, people played along with their lines, like, “Throw your hands in the air like you just don’t get it/and wave ‘em half-assed like you’re apathetic!” Chance even has a song called “Velour Girls” that pokes fun at some of Velour’s more hipster-y patrons. In “Velour Girls,” Chance talks about learning all of the choreography to Seve Vs. Evan, his favorite local band. Later on in the song, some girls near me shouted with approval at Chance’s line about eating frozen yogurt and getting it on, but then gasped and exchanged awkward looks at his line about dry humping. I couldn’t stop laughing.
Red Orange took the stage in matching outfits––orange shirts and blue shorts––and played an intro that felt like it lasted 15 minutes, which made me think it was going to build up into something amazing ... but it didn’t. Admittedly, Chance Lewis and Apt are so energetic that they’re a tough act to follow, but Red Orange put a bit of a damper on the show. It’s hard to tell exactly what they were going for; I thought they were a surf band, but they just sounded like bland pop rock with some possible surf influences. If you like the new Surfer Blood song, you might think these guys are okay.
Seve Vs. Evan is the perfect name for the next band on the bill. They are a keyboard and drums duo whose music sounds like it could soundtrack a video game. They were fun and it was cool to see so many fanboys and girls singing along and doing all the dance moves together, though Seve made it obvious that they hadn’t played in a while when he forgot several of his own songs. Similarly, one of their fanboys asked Seve to “bring it back to 2005” and take his shirt off for the last song, to which Seve also forgot the words. He asked for some fans to come onstage and sing it for him, and they did, but they too had forgotten the words. The venue’s atmosphere during Seve Vs. Evan was so positive and fun when everyone was dancing, yet now I don’t know what it was about them that was so great. I think they just have this infectious spirit that only exists when you see them live. Thinking back on the night of the show, though, just makes me sad that I never got to see them back in 2005.
All night I felt like Tony Hello, the lead singer of Eyes Lips Eyes, reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t figure out who. Then I figured it out: he dresses like a younger version of Willy Wonka with longer hair and no top hat. Hello was about as crazy on stage as Wonka is about candy; he danced and thrashed around tirelessly throughout his performance––it was enthralling. Before Eyes Lips Eyes even began setting up, girls and boys were yelling and oohing at each other, and I felt like they were in on something I wasn’t. I figured out during the first song that they were imitating Hello’s dramatic mannerisms. I’ve never seen a person––or a band, for that matter––with as much stage presence as Hello has with Eyes Lips Eyes. As a result, every song had the blasting intensity of a band that clearly puts everything into their performance and loves every second of it. Their music is reminiscent of many post-punk revival bands of the 2000s, like Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes and particularly the dance-punk style of The Rapture. Throughout their set, people were tripping over themselves and each other to try to dance as fast as the guitar riffs in those songs. Everyone proved that to be impossible during their encore, “Tickle,” except for the guy who was frantically sprinting from wall to wall toward the back of the venue. When Hello introduced “Tickle,” he simply said, “The name of this song is ...” and everyone screamed once they heard the riff that sounds like a baby being tickled.
If you’ve never heard about all the music coming out of Provo, this show was a pretty good introduction; it had a rap duo many people probably wouldn’t expect to come from Provo, a pretty new band that needs a little polishing, an older band that had a huge following a few years ago, and a band that moved out of Provo, but still comes back to visit.