I always want to pat out-of-town bands soothingly on the shoulder after their repeated exhortations to a concert crowd on the subject of dancing fall completely flat. We should issue a public service announcement to bands who’ve never played in the CH or Carrboro before: “It isn’t anything personal, it’s just that the hipsters here don’t dance.” They don’t — I’ve bitched about this before, because I dance, and sometimes I go to shows where I feel like if you’re not dancing, you might be dead inside.
And yet the hipsters, they still don’t dance.
This was the case last night at the 506, for both opener Miniature Tigers (enjoyable indie rock) and headliner the Morning Benders, and I felt for both of them. The crowd was attentive and into the show, but they weren’t going to dance. No matter what. No matter how nicely Chris Chu asked them.
It’s not you, though, honey — it’s them.
Regardless of the lack of dancing — and there were some songs to dance to, no questions asked — it was a great show, from start to finish. I didn’t know anything about Acrylics and Miniature Tigers, but they both made excellent groovable acoustic-y indie rock, and they exceeded my expectations for openers: they were good, not just passably tolerable and not too boring. So points for that.
And the Morning Benders, oh, the Morning Benders. The songs on the album which sound like sweet pop grooves rock, hard, live — not quite a wall of sound, but the two guitars crunch and wail against each other, the drums and bass drive danceably (stupid hipsters), and the songs turn from catchy surf pop to something bigger. I wasn’t surprised, but I was delighted. They’re a great live band, excellent performers and Chu’s going to grow up into a fantastic frontman, crowds in the palm of his hand and all that.
I was going to post the set list here, but I didn’t write it down and then we accidentally put the actual set list that shep. snagged through the wash. They played the whole new album; I don’t think they played anything from the first album, and definitely nothing from my beloved Bedroom Covers (that Johnny Mercer cover! the Beach Boys cover! *swoon*), but it was worth it. The songs on the album hold together so well as an album, but taken out of order and presented as individual pieces, they’re just as dynamic but so distinct. I think there are albums that stand as albums, and albums that stand as separate songs, but it can be rare to find albums that stand as both: as a whole, on your headphones, in the dark late at night, and as single pieces, caught on the radio or sung out over a hot room full of underage hipsters.
The Morning Benders made an album, and put on a show, that managed both of those things; they are going places, certainly, as if the press about Big Echo hadn’t already convinced you of that. I’m grateful to have seen them on their way up. Catching bands about to explode at the 506 is one of my favorite things about living in the CH.
And the Morning Benders, I think, are about to do that.