Lured into the dark venue portion of Kilby by the assembling of group of folks, I look toward the front of the room to watch NSPS take the stage. Having never seen them before, I’m not sure what to expect. Their frontman, Jeremy Mathews, starts off by saying, in good humor, “This is the performance art portion of the show where we watch Sarah put in her ear plugs,” in regards to the bassist, Sarah Morton, while she gets prepared. In little time, NSPS launches into sort indie-popedelic lounge rock n‘ roll carried on low key vocals. In all, they’re easy listening that one can have on in the background to provide a nice atmosphere. The audience seems to dig the performance as each conclusion elicits applause.
The vocalist and drummer are the most energetic of the group, as they really get behind each number. However, it’s Morton’s ability to play a wide array of instruments that makes the act notable and interesting. In contrast to NSPS, Melle define their set with a fun blend of soulful, funky jazz with indie-pop sensibilities. This is through the prominent use of bass and keyboard in conjunction with harmonious but sharp vocals curtesy of Melle. Again, their sound is well suited to a lounge. It is easy to groove to as something in the background. It’s solid, but I’m missing a cocktail or two. They go through numbers like the snappy and poppy “Porcelain Woman” and the heavier “Up Right” to an elated audience.
During the intermission, I manage to enjoy the nice spring breeze while waiting for the Dengue Fever to go on. I get a few words in with Dengue Fever’s bassist Senon Williams about the tour, their label Tuk Tuk Records and the band’s plans for later in the year. Williams revealed an East Coast tour in the fall.
Walking back into the venue’s main stage room, the apparent popularity of Dengue Fever is more than obvious. They inspire a diversity of folks to turn out for their show. I see among the crowd the young fresh faces of the next-generation rockers, some hip-looking types and even the people wearing what is perhaps the most psychedelic-looking shirt in their wardrobe all hanging about with certain anticipation for the band to start.
Dengue Fever’s emergence onto the stage inspires a buzz of excitement in the room. The crowd is immediately captivated by the eerie up-tempo Cambodian psychedelic sound and soulful vocals. Their signature high-energy music is electrified by the bands stage presence and showmanship. They jump up and down, move about, and really throw themselves into every song. Notably, it is Williams that I watch with awe as he flies across the stage. He looks to be about 6’7”, and I am surprised his head does not go through the low ceiling.
Dengue Fever are giving the performance their all and they enjoy every second onstage. Much to the excitement of the audience, Dengue Fever blasts through some of their new material like the catchy “Ram Sok Sok.” Many of the numbers require crowd participation, to the which those in the packed house are eager to oblige. The set carries through almost an hour and half’s worth of psychedelic rock n’ roll. Somehow, the audience manages to shake rattle and roll all through it—a feat my knackered self finds impressive. Though Dengue Fever’s set ends on an upbeat note, the act of being released from their spell is almost like going through the stages of learning how to walk again.
Stumbling outside into the pleasant spring breeze, I realize that I am drained by what truly was an awesome spectacle that leaves my spirit elated but my body worn. My party and I bump into Williams in the parking lot, and he tells me of plans to venture into town and find a bar after the show is officially over. It being Friday, I decide to rise to the occasion and accept the invitation to go play a nail-biting game of Jenga at Beer Bar. The night is still young, after all, and one must never turn down the opportunity for adventure—especially after the epicness of a show like tonight.