Electric Christmas headliner Capital Cities // Paul Piazza
For the first time ever, Radio 94.7 sold out its annual Electric Christmas mini-fest.
Was it the top-to-bottom strong lineup, offering a mix of critical indie rock darlings and electro-pop radio hitmakers? Or was it the allure of the new arena?
We’ll never know for sure, but particularly with the dismal turnout for the radio station’s Spring Fling last year, it was exciting to see so many people enthusiastically fist-pumping $14 beers last night.
Warpaint opened the evening—an indie rock troupe that’s way too good to be an opener, but so it goes. With ambient, psychedelic-tinged soundscapes and Theresa Wayman’s haunting vocals, the group set a tone of chill on overdrive.
That was wiped clean though by the Naked and Famous, the New Zealand electro-indie group that’s been somewhat of a one-hit-wonder in the United States for “Young Blood.” Unfortunately, it performed like a one-hitter too, seeming to phone the all-too conventional set in from elsewhere.
Dave Bayley, mid-dance move // Paul Piazza
English indie band Glass Animals received the greatest response of the night, with everyone in the arena on their feet for the entirety of its energetic set. To see Glass Animals is not just to appreciate its unique-for-the-mainstream, hip-hop- and trip-hop-inflected sound, but to try to decipher perpetually-barefoot singer Dave Bayley’s dance moves, which moved back and forth between a white guy who shamelessly can’t dance, a more manic Thom Yorke, a super-fresh ‘90s rap king and someone helplessly, rhythmically drowning on land.
The international theme continued with Milky Chance, Germany’s genre-bending gem that fuses folk songwriting with electronic beats, bongo drums and expert guitarwork. Though many of its songs sound like radio mainstay “Flashed Junk Mind,” some of Milky Chance’s newer songs coming out on next year’s record show more range.
Milky Chance’s Clemens Rehbein // Paul Piazza
Similarly, Capital Cities surprised with much more to offer than the electro-pop duo’s smash hit “Safe and Sound.” Yes, the trumpet player was festive and fun, and the dance-ready songs echoed the central duo’s matching outfits and over-the-top cheesiness a la Chromeo. But performing as a seven-piece, the group veered into spacey, groovey territory as well.
Compared to last year’s Electric Christmas of Bastille, Robert DeLong and Cold War Kids, Radio 94.7 definitely took a big step up—and Sacramento noticed.