A Tidal Wave of Love
Carla Rocavert reviews the exclusive showcase of Capital Cities at The Standard, Surry Hills September 25, 2013. Photos by Brad Smith.
“Love. Just love away. Just do it every day. Just do it every way” chanted indie-pop outfit Capital Cities at their exclusive Sydney showcase last night. Industry folk swelled into rhythmic unison with heads bopping and hands clapping as the harmonic melody of a Los Angeles ‘love song’ played over funky indie-electro beats.
Meet Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, the duo rocking a ‘tidal wave’ of hypnotic electro-pop songs on US and international stages. Both former jingle writers, their debut album is A Tidal Wave of Mystery, a melange of reimagined disco covers including Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” and Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” and original indie pop tunes including their global hit “Safe and Sound”.
Backed by Hollywood label Capitol Records the Capital Cities sound is perhaps a nod to the playful disco of Daft Punk or the quirky Scissor Sisters (who rose through the charts with a disco-funk cover of “Comfortably Numb”). Capital Cities’ secret weapon however is extraordinary trumpeter Spencer Ludwig, whose soulful, jazzy riffs lift each piece into the euphoric joyfulness they’ve become famous for.
Normally a five piece unit, only bassist Manny Quintero and Ludwig joined Merchant and Simonian for last night’s showcase; as a foursome they covered every instrumental base.
Sporting trademark sunnies and black jacket Simonian bopped alongside Merchant (on guitar) delivering cute choreography and perfectly synced harmonies. Sydney was quick to warm up to their charisma, revelling in base-filled beats and vibrations and moonwalking for “Farrah Fawcett Hair”, their eccentric track narrated by NPR’s Frank Tavares, featuring Andre 3000. “Do you want to see some American guys dance?” roused Merchant as the beat rose.
The eclectic riffs and synths of “Origami” and “I Sold My Bed But Not My Stereo”, and the fun-infused upbeat melody of “Kangaroo Court” built momentum (the latter an obvious coup for indie pop lovers down under) before the boys joyfully launched into “Safe and Sound”, the song that won them a global online fan base after it went viral in 2011. “Safe and Sound” has since hit eighth place on Billboard’s Hot 100 and topped the Alternative Songs chart. The well-known track hit its mark in the established sing-along atmosphere.
Taking full advantage of the intimate chic-grunge of The Standard the artists lived up to their sociable reputation, grooving up close with fans and encouraging a jacket (or shirt, wallet, shoe – whatever you could find) swinging fist-pump to the digital encore of “Safe and Sound”. The crowd soaked up the sweet electro-pop veracity, after especially enjoying a surprise cover of Madonna’s celebratory “Holiday”, for the finale.
Capital Cities have played to sold-out houses in California and have toured the US, Canada and Europe, making a splash on German and South American radio. They’re out to conquer the rest now.
As the crowd echoed their jingle-like pitch for life “I could lift you up, I’ll show what you wanna see and take you where you wanna be”, with no screen to hide behind, and the worries of the world offline for a change, they rejoiced in the live setting that music is meant for – safe and sound.