Thursday, April 14, 2016

Concert Review: The Rebel Light @ Radio 104.5 Performance Theater - Bala Cynwyd, PA 04/12/16

Since alternative radio started playing the dreamy, echoed harmonies of The Rebel Light's "Strangers" everyone has been clamoring for more.  The single "Strangers" is their only release.  When I found our I won tickets to see The Rebel Light do a Radio 104.5 Studio Session I knew I would finally get a chance to find out what this band was all about.

If you do a quick internet search for The Rebel Light you don't find much.  Their sound evokes the sunny rays of California from a different era.  The vibes of The Mamas and the Papas and The Beach Boys are definitely being summoned.  They sound like a dreamy summer day.  I was curious if this sound would follow them through the rest of their catalog.  I mean, there has to be a catalog, they are presently on tour with The Mowgli's.  I was about to find out.

Radio 104.5 is located in the iHeartRadio building in the western suburbs of Philadelphia.  I arrived early as requested and realized there were only a few of us that made the trek.  We were reading the tweets from the station getting pumped for what was about to happen.  10 minutes before they went live we were escorted back to the studio.  I walked in armed with only my phone this time.

I was excited when I saw the intimate setup.  The stage is low and the seats were few,  It is just big enough to broadcast live and seat around twenty guests.  I grabbed a comfy seat up front and got ready for the show.

We were greeted by Jessie who is the 7-10 pm DJ on Radio 104.5.  I love Jessie's energy!  She was talking to us about The Rebel Light when she thought one of the guests were wearing shoes with a pizza pattern.  They turned out to be red and white striped Nike sneakers.  Just then, the woman seated next to him revealed her sneakers actually did have a pizza print.  Jessie flipped!  I took a photo of her taking a photo of the shoes. It's all about the shoes.

She introduced the band and the four members took the stage.  They were treating us with a four song acoustic set.  The first song was "Where Did All The Love Go".  It did not disappoint.  It followed with that lazy California love in feel. The brothers of Will and Jarrett Steil had spot on harmonies accompanied by Brandon playing a suitcase.

Their next track was "Summer" which completely sums up their sound.  It transforms you to a summer day that is carefree and sunny.  Seeing The Rebel Light acoustically was such a treat but I am now longing to see them plugged in to get the full appeal of their talent.

The guys encouraged us to sing along with their cover of "Be My Baby".  It was hard not to sing along.  I found myself smiling uncontrollably.  After warming us up with "Be My Baby" they ended their set with their single "Strangers".  I always marvel at a band that kills a song and makes it sound better than the recording.  The vocals and performance were perfect.  Will even played a trumpet solo with one hand on a trumpet he has had since the age of nine.

After the set Jessie had the opportunity to interview the band.  I had my own questions I wanted the answers to and Jessie nailed it asking all the right things.  First and foremost was when are we going to get treated with an album.  These guys are playing on tour right now so obviously they must have a set of songs. They joked that they just played "Strangers" seven times a night.  They promised they had at least an EP's worth of music and it should be out in a few weeks.  Will mentioned that there were four more tracks they were working on and a full length album should be following the EP.

Jessie also asked how they all met.  Will and Jarrett and brothers from Montauk, NY and relocated to LA where they met Brandon and had been playing with him for four years.  Their bassist had only been with them since November 2015.  He approached them at a show and said he noticed they were playing without a bassist and he knew a guy.  He jammed with them and the rest was history.

Lastly, Jessie commented on the vibe of their upcoming EP.  She said that sometimes she doesn't want an emotional roller coaster that bands like Coldplay can put you through with their lyrics. She asked if they would stay upbeat like the songs they had just played for us.  Will joked that he would make us miserable.   He said they have one or two deeper tunes but when they play live they like to keep the tempo up and will alter those songs a bit.

Their manager came out and mentioned the band had brought CD samplers for us to take home. Three tracks with one song that they had not played during their session.  The band also handed us stickers and a tour map and chatted with us while signing autographs.  The first thing I noticed was how pleasant these guys were. Not only did they ask for my name, they remembered it referring to me by it for the rest of the gathering.

I was talking with Jarrett about Philadelphia and he was excited they had arrived early the night before and he and Brandon had the chance to walk around the city.  They found the Art Museum steps and recognized it from the movie Rocky.  I asked them if they ran up the step.  They did!  They laughed saying that the steps weren't that big and Rocky must have been a wimp.  It's funny because it hit me that unless you are from Philly you don't realize that the jogging montage has him running around the entire city of Philadelphia. We talked about cheese steaks and life on the road.  They guys were humble and wonderful.  They took photos of us with them and we said our farewells.

On the ride home I popped in the CD.  On the drive to the studio it had been raining but afterwards it had warmed up and the sun was shining bright.  Their CD was the perfect backdrop for the ride home.  I was thrilled hearing the new track "Afterlife".  I expect big things from this band. Sometimes you just get the feeling.

See you when the needle drops!


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