As part of Red Bull’s Sound Select concert series, Brooklyn’s electro-pop duo Tanlines performed an intimate set at the relatively tiny Sayers Club in Hollywood in anticipation of playing the main stage at FYF Fest this weekend. Sound Select’s mission statement is both to put on great shows and expose new audiences to rising talents, with an emphasis on supporting local acts. Wednesday’s show, curated by Amoeba Music and KCRW, included opening acts Roses and SISU, fitting complements to Tanlines’ peppy, hip-swinging beats and encouraging lyrical turns.
Roses, a dream-pop trio that includes Abe Vigoda’s Juan Velasquez, featured heavily chorused new-wave guitar and synths, spare electronic drumbeats and fuzzed bass that carried echoed vocals reminiscent of the space croons of China Girl-era David Bowie. Funny and friendly between songs, Velasquez was quick to point out the similarity of the candle and couch-strewn venue to an episode of MTV Unplugged. After a quick change-over, SISU, a danceable psychedelic outfit fronted by Dum Dum Girls multi-instrumentalist Sandra Vu, provided the noisiest moments of the evening with echoed pick-scratches, feedback, pulsing trap drums and uneasily haunting, delirious vocals that occasionally rose out of the surrounding noise to belt a chorus before slipping back beneath it. Vu’s voice has a quality of cutting through while staying in the alto-ish range, not relying on high notes for impact.
After a long break, Tanlines took the stage for a surprisingly short but effective nine-song set, playing a balance of old and new songs that have the band continuing on their trajectory into catchy, tropical, electro-pop goodness. From the moment they started, the crowd, sedate from the long break, showed signs of foot-tapping and head-nodding, making their way to the floor directly in front the band. By the time the squelching synths introduced the second song, 2012’s “Real Life”, the entire audience was moving, on their feet or in their seats, and the energy didn’t abate for the rest of their set. By the time they played their closer, “All of Me”, the audience was surprised to hear they were already done. A few chanted “One more song!” but there was no encore.
Tanlines, and in much the same way Roses, don’t show much variation in style, which seems to have a purpose of sorts. Rather than steer into ever-changing territory at the risk misfires and breaks in momentum, they are more about sustaining an emotional and physical energy. And it worked. The function of the used and reused rhythms performed by Jesse Cohen kept the crowd in motion as guitarist and vocalist Eric Emm maintained an emotional undercurrent, with lines like “Do what you don’t do” inspiring personal betterment and letting go of life’s hindering baggage. Tanlines are like an infectious cheer, encouraging you both to move and move towards something, perhaps not knowing what or where it is, just that you want to get there.
Maybe FYF Fest this Sunday.
To see Tanlines.