Local indie rock band NeoRomantics played a concert on Monday (Sept. 24) at Willows Family Ales with Iowa band Kayak Jones.
I came over just after the show started, but I could hear the music from my car. Loud like rock should be, the band was already impressing me. Excellent vocals, pulsing beats, and a vibrant crowd (for one of about thirty to forty people, anyways) made the first set go by way too fast.
It was an outdoor show at a brewery with a makeshift stage in front of picnic tables in a small enclosed space. Multicolored lights shined on the playing band, painting them neon. A strobe – the kind that lit up elementary school dances – put polka dots on their clothes.
The first to come on was Kayak Jones. I could hear their music from the parking lot, a loud melodious sound floating through the air. Their songs spoke of raw talent and emotion.
There were no games with this band, no fancy get ups or pretty light shows. It was all about the music. They played to the crowd – and the crowd responded. Swaying in time to the beat, the front row seemed to have synchronized their dancing. Phone screens shined brightly as videos and pictures were taken.
When their set ended (too soon, sadly), after breaking down their equipment, they moved to the back and engaged with fans. They were friendly, and with every compliment, they seemed both grateful and a bit bashful.
Then, it was time for NeoRomantics.
What a great band.
Their music, rock with ethereal vocals, was heavenly. Coming out of the reverie they put me in, it felt like leaving a worship service.
Their focus was obviously on the instrumental aspect, an odd and refreshing point that is rare to find. Again, no gimmicks were found in this performance. It was all about the music and playing to the fans.
Looks of contentment appeared on the musicians’ faces – during parts, I caught them with their eyes closed.
They danced as well as they could in the cramped space, jumping with their guitars and head banging towards one another. Rarely did they stop for interludes; they didn’t need to explain their music because the music explained itself.
So enrapturing were they that I could literally feel the vocalist’s emotions when he sang, “Stay concentrated on me.” It was like he was actually asking us, the audience, to stay focused on him, to keep our eyes fastened to him as he told us his story.
They were pros on that small makeshift stage. It didn’t seem to matter that the crowd was mainly friends and family or that the venue was a brewery.
Watching them was no different than watching a larger band at a bigger venue – they played together with ease, creating a unified sound.
It was amazing how focused they were on the audience. The photographer was shooting candid pictures, getting as close as possible, stepping into the front row and off to the side. Yet, the band paid no notice – with the exception of the bassist who, towards the end, paused between songs and gave a wide mouthed grin, head up, eyes almost closed, looking over his nose.
The show was short but sweet. They engaged well with their fans afterwards, and they thanked Willows Family Ales multiple times for having them.
They were kind and put on a great show. I would highly recommend seeing these guys perform live – it’s an experience you won’t forget.