Inspired and the Sleep and Lightning Cola recently took a well-deserved victory lap at The Belly Up Tavern.
We might as well award these bands “Most Improved”! Both Inspired and the Sleep and Lighting Cola put forth tremendous attention to detail since I’d last seen them. With their professionalism and solid methodology in their stage presence and pacing, I’d imagine they’d fit in quite nicely on the lineup of any of the major Summer festivals happening right now.
Lightning Cola’s energetic sound reflected a dualistic fondness for stadium-sized pop hooks and jagged, effects-laden guitar, with a tight musical interplay that shook the room.
Watching them joyfully shred their populist indie jams to pieces was witnessing true catharsis. Their emphatic closer, “Kind Guidance,” infused the venue with pure magic. The band lost themselves in a heady jam with pounding improvised rhythms propelled forward by massive fills and cacophonous melodies.
The clean and plucky guitar leads that populated the more carefully structured songs were set opposite to front man Niko Sitaras’ passionate and direct vocal style. This creative choice made it sound like they were well versed in indie bands like Pixies and Sonic Youth, but also had a pointed desire to experiment.
After a brief respite, Inspired and the Sleep took the stage. For Inspired, this show represented their own rebirth as a live outfit and a sort of homecoming now that some members reside in Los Angeles.
With a new album on the horizon, the band brought their live show up a notch, with the addition of two new members to accommodate the intricate arrangements of their rapidly growing catalog. A superbly talented rhythm section allowed front man Max Greenhalgh to free himself of his usual bass duties. He triggered samples and added dexterous keyboard textures while providing vocals with reverb deep enough to get lost in. Midway through the set, Greenhalgh let loose and waded into the crowd, repeatedly letting the crowd know how much he appreciated them. A true gentleman.
Inspired’s updated sound impacted the audience. Their tight, flowing dynamics allowed the audience to coast on the strength of their cocktails, absorbing the carefree vibes without a worry. Recent single “Getting Through” cast an intoxicating air over the whole room, with everyone in attendance growing rowdier and more invested by the song. “Peripherals” was also a major highlight, with a chorus that soared up to the rafters and an accented, off-kilter rhythmic feel.
It was evident from the success of this show that these guys have chosen music for the right reasons, have a great time doing it, and are completely self-aware. If things go as they should, there’s no telling just how far these bands can make it.
Review by: Dennis Moon
Photos By: Christine Heyne