Indie pop band lights up the Firebird

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Alternative rock was the theme of Sunday evening at the Firebird club on Olive Street, with Vinyl Theatre, Grizfolk and headliner Smallpools performing.  Each of the three bands has its own distinct sound, each effective in its own right. Concertgoers packed the relatively small Firebird and were receptive to all three of the evening’s groups, and their three different takes on alt-rock.

Starting off the night with a bang, Vinyl Theatre took the stage with passion and immediately got down to the business of pumping up the audience, with “Shine On,” from their recently-released debut album, “Electrogram.” Band members Keegan Calmes (vocals/guitar), Chris Senner (keyboard), Nick Cesarz (drums) and Josh Pothier (bass) were all energetic, yet , perfectly in sync with one another in their bouncing chord progressions and tight harmonies. They spent the night constantly jumping and smiling—it seemed like they were having the time of their lives—and that feeling, combined with their upbeat and edgy sound, made the crowd jump and smile with them. Their six-song set culminated with “Breaking Up My Bones,” a pounding single that features Calmes’ robust vocals and an infectious chorus, which made the crowd (and I) wonder why they were leaving the stage so soon.

Up next was Grizfolk, a five-man group that fused rock, folk, country and a hint of pop together, for quite a mix.

Finally, the night’s main event, Smallpools, came onstage to the adoring screams of the crowd. Their show was a blinding one, in the literal sense.  It felt like all the lights in the St. Louis area were turned on inside the Firebird, flanked by the fog spilling out of machines beside the pounding speakers. It was dramatic, loud, and added to the ambiance.  Fresh off of the release of their album “Lovetap!” Smallpools almost performed  the entire album, prefacing each with a story, explaining the song’s inspiration and creation.  After each story, the band’s four members—Sean Scanlon (vocals), Mike Kamerman (guitar), Joseph Intile (bass) and Beau Kuther (drums)—dived into the song and lost themselves in the sound, interacting with the crowd in a musical trance. Scanlon acted as the band’s front man, chatting with members of the audience, even jumping down into the crowd and roaming around for a while, singing with a voice similar to David Bowie, but with much better tonality . Among the many songs they performed, I’d particularly recommend “9 to 5,” “Karaoke”(a crowd-favorite), “Lovetap!” “American Love” and “Dreaming.”

Needless to say, after listening to Vinyl Theatre, Grizfolk, and Smallpools, I left the Firebird on Sunday night a very happy concertgoer, with upbeat rock pumping through my head from three new, distinct bands, whom will undoubtedly continue to rock the music world.