“Have you seen the movie Drive?”
Last Saturday night at the Biltmore Cabaret, this question was tossed around by people thinking of something to say to someone. It was a rhetorical exercise, anyway. Most people were there because they had seen Drive, and when they had seen it, the only thing on their minds was, I gotta find out what that song is called.
Electric Youth played an early show at the Biltmore last weekend to support their debut record, Innerworld, released Sept. 30 on Last Gang Records. Supporting the couple were bands with a proven specialty in New Wave: local group Boyfriends and Girlfriends and the L.A.-based Midnight Faces. In between sets, a playlist of bygone 80s tracks were used as decorative filler for background noise.
Coming on close to 9 PM, Midnight Faces, comprised of vocalist Philip Stancil and songwriter Matthew Doty, initially attracted a milling crowd too shy to go close to the stage. But before long, songs like “Wake Me”, “Over Again”, and “Diamond” hooked their bobbing heads and minimally-moving hips. Midnight Faces released a pretty good follow-up to their debut LP, Fornication, with The Fire Is Gone earlier in May; with eight tracks, Midnight Faces managed to keep The Fire short but sweet, making fans eager for more with their D.I.Y. production values raw and strong tunes. Introducing “Black Majesty” that night, Midnight Faces gave the audience more, playing one of the new songs off of Donna, a two song EP that went out on Bandcamp last week. A particular highlight was when they played “Shadows”, a golden track off of The Fire Is Gone.
At 9:30, the lights shut off, and in the brief moment of black space, the crowd cheered to release a little excitement. Smoke began unfurling across the stage, and the blue light cast on the smoke gave it a stylized look that was déjà vu to press photos of vocalist Bronwyn Griffin and sound-maker Austin Garrick. Electric Youth had an uber-chill presence that might have had to do with a set of lush melodies that were too serious for dancing – these were admiring bodies rather than grooving ones. Electric Youth performed a few stand-outs from Innerworld such as “Runaway” and “Without You”. Griffin’s voice was insatiably coy and sweet; she sang as though she was sugar-coating her words.
The Torontonian band’s innocent and rich synth-pop numbers were glamorous but lacked visceral stimulation. It wasn’t until “A Real Hero” came on that there was a magic touch to the beautiful atmospherics Electric Youth was creating. Not that Electric Youth is a one-hit-wonder by a long shot, but that one hit shines on the band as much as it casts a shadow over them. Ever since releasing “Faces”, a disco doozy off of 2009’s Valerie and Friends compilation, Electric Youth has shown that they’re worth keeping an eye on.