The (Utah) Kids Are Alright: The Backseat Lovers at 9:30 Club
March 2, 2022 @ 12:00pm
The Backseat Lovers first appear like a cozy little rock outfit: a bit shaggy, a little loose, but playing to a packed house for their 9:30 Club show on Monday night. The Provo, Utah-based band displayed major ambitious musical moments, too.
Standing in front of art deco-stained glass windows, the band — made up of Josh Harmon (lead vocals/guitar), Jonas Swanson (lead guitar/vocals), Ethan Christensen (bass) and Juice Welch (drums) — began with beachy vibes before wailing guitars and pounding drums kicked in, finally smoothing back out into a dreamscape again.
The band is currently on their North American tour, with shows in Georgia, Florida, California, Oregon and Washington remaining. In May, the band will head abroad for a slew of performances in the U.K. and Europe, before circling back to jam at Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee.
This intro jam demonstrates how each of their indie-rock songs are actually complexly orchestrated with multiple movements across genres and styles. You get your bang for your buck in each four minute song.
The set was heavy with songs from their debut album “When We Were Friends” (2019).
“Kilby Girl” is one of those familiar indie-pop songs about falling in love with a Manic Pixie Dream Girl complete with a nose ring and world-weary point of view. Yeah, we’ve heard it a million times before, but it’s still a bop with an extended jam session for the last two minutes of the song. And “Maple Syrup” is a break-up song (the narrator is the heartbreaker here) with “cool scars” and a stolen purple sweater still smelling like the ex. “Pool House” gets a bit bluesy, while “Pictures,” from their EP “Elevator Days” slowly builds into a confessional over stomping drums. It’s all bildungsroman alt-rock, the joys and angst of young manhood.
The Backseat Lovers were barely legal themselves when they recorded their debut two years ago. Despite their fuzzy, beachy sounds, they are an ambitious bunch and are currently recording their follow-up album.
Halfway through their set, the enthusiastic audience shouted out for the rocker “Davy Crochet,” singing along as they did for the duration of the concert. “Out of Tune” evolved into a scorcher. They played the unreleased “Growing/Dying,” and for the thrashing encore after a baker’s dozen of song and some rock n’ roll theatrics, they returned to the stage for the heavy closer “Sinking Ship.”
With their energy, strong fan base and complex arrangements, the next album is one to keep an eye out for.
The opening band Over Under from Salt Lake City — another band of young, long-haired Utahans, played a solid set of moody, dreamy indie-rock that spiraled into loose-limbed drumming, skunky bass and psychedelic settings.
Keep up with The Backseat Lovers at thebackseatlovers.com or on Instagram @the.backseat.lovers.
9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; 202-265-0930; 930.com // @930club
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