Things got pretty damn bromantic at In the Venue on Wednesday, August 22, 2018. Headliners Lydia were accompanied by Cherry Pools and Jared and the Mill—all three arguably very different bands cut from the indie cloth—for an intimate reprieve from the rain outside. Seemingly happenstance, all three acts seemed to demonstrate brotherly love during their sets by pairing up, jamming, and beaming all the while (as evidenced by the photos to come).
It wasn’t that long ago that Lydia made a stop in SLC, at the Complex, to hype up their upcoming (and recently-released) album, Liquor. This time, they decided to show up at a cozier locale, for a smaller audience, to give fans a taste of their new and old-school tracks. Their incendiary Complex appearance had intrigued me to peruse their discography circa 2005’s This December; It’s One More and I’m Free, up until their new LP. A simple reason to check them out again, within the span of just a few months, but I’m glad I did—not just for their stellar live presence, but their first opener.
Cherry Pools’ blue-haired frontman Martin Broda wore some tight black-and-white striped pants and, perhaps to suit the locale, a cut-off shirt that read, “LESS RELIGION MORE SEX.” The music was remarkably poppy, following in the verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus tradition. They have a campy, pop-rock sound to them reminiscent of a Howard Hughes soundtrack, and they pull it off more than convincingly. “Hollywood,” the last song on their setlist, was a particularly boppin’ ‘90s callback that paid homage to L.A. girls and daddy’s trustfund.
It was difficult not to draw comparisons between them and the more seasoned Brit rockers, The 1975 (“Hollywood” in its lyrical content and guitar arrangement sounds like “Girls” and “Settle Down” put in a blender), but considering the latter’s huge transnational success, it’s a compliment.
Folk band Jared and the Mill got off to a rocky start as a result of sound issues, background music that persisted from the backroom bar, and probably other distractions. It was entertaining to watch how they passed the time: lead singer and guitarist Jared Kolesar impressed the girls up front by flipping water bottles, and at one point, they just started grooving and playing along to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Let’s Groove,” playing through the speakers.
The performance was less upbeat than their predecessors’ and had more of a singer-songwriter feel (think: Mumford & Sons-meets-Fleet Foxes). Fortunately (if not a tad belatedly), the energy picked up at the last song, when Kolesar started riffing on guitar while rolling around the floor, at least for a good minute.
Given it was their third-to-last stop on their national tour, you could sense the nostalgia among the bands. In a touching gesture, Kolesar beckoned to the guys of Lydia (sans frontman Leighton Antelman) to join them onstage for some acappella for the first lines of “Messengers.”
Like their previous SLC show, Lydia did not disappoint. The first releases off Liquor were cause for a singalong, especially the chippest song of the lot, “Sunlight.” Matt Keller (keys) and Evan Chapman (drums) again ensured that “Goodside” was a cinematic performance whose power even surpassed its studio recording. Their most recent single, “Let it Cover Me Up” had Antelman doing his uber-expressive, full-bodied singing.
Completing the aesthetics were a projector that gave us clips from pop culture icons and old Americana fare, and the band members’ signature bare-footed playing. They have certainly garnered some criticism for moving from more lyrical to pop-friendly content, but judging by the crowd reception, it was no matter: Lydia’s cult following is still going strong.
To view more photos from the show, go here.
Read all of Salt Lake magazine’s music coverage here.