By: Evan Klein
Bully, the Nashville powerhouse, ripped through a set at the Hideout on a pleasant Friday night in San Diego. I found frontwoman Alicia Bognanno at the bar drinking what looked like a Red Bull and poring over her phone while the opener, Heat, did their soundcheck. She was toting a gigantic backpack and sporting some unkempt hair. I did not speak to her.
Heat comes from Canada, and they are okay at music, but I don’t believe them. During soundcheck the singer said “check” into the mic several times, and also peppered in “pleases” and “thank yous.” Canadians. Devoid of personality, they figured out how to pleasantly get through a set of songs that sound like 70s Lou Reed with 90s Sonic Youth & Superchunk guitars. They know how to play their instruments okay, but their sound is uninspiring and I don’t think they mean it.
You know who means it? Bully. They bring the energy, and when that scream hits you – you smile and settle in for the ride. They jumped right in and didn’t let up. “Brainfreeze” was the song of the summer, and it is an out-and-out killer of a pop song. So, I was a little disappointed they sped through it as the third song in the set. It didn’t destroy me like I dreamed it would. They went on to do a cover that I didn’t recognize, and then belted out a good version of “Trying” along with several other jams from their debut album Feels Like. They kept the party fun and buzzy and all of the good looking youngsters in the packed house went away happy into the night.
Bully will be in Paris on Tuesday playing the opening night of the Pitchfork Music Festival, and follow that with European and Australian tour stops.