Show Review

Lazyeyes @ Ace of Cups 1/17/16

Nick Lotz

I get there and they’re setting up. I have a brief chance to say hi to the members of the band before the show starts. They seem friendly, outgoing. I take my place by the bar and order a drink. Drew pops over first to grab a beer. He was the star of the “Adaptation” music video and tells me, while sipping on a Lone Star, that he’s only been with the band for eight months, which is quite impressive considering the aforementioned video stardom. Drew walks away, and I turn back toward the stage and watch Sam warm up a bit with his guitar.

Jeremy wanders over next and orders a Founders brew, then launches into an extended monologue about when he and the band visited the Founders brewery while on tour and were treated to a nigh endless supply of craft beer. He walks away and Sam promptly shows up. It’s almost as if they rehearsed this constant back and forth, showing up sequentially after one another in order to keep the dialogue running with the band. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, I am thoroughly enjoying the near endless amount of material they’re giving me for this show review.

Sam orders a Founders also, so I question him on the brewery story.
“I’m writing the whole piece on Founders craft beer and its relation with Lazyeyes.”
“I have to ask, do you guys (musicians) actually enjoy doing PR events i.e. interviews and whatnot, or is it more of a hassle than anything else?”
Sam shrugs and takes a sip off his glass, “I’m the new guy. I try not to talk too much.”

Once Sam walks away, I ask my plus one, Jared McNealis, about Sam’s preference for Eddie Van Halen (referenced previously in the interview I did with the band a few weeks ago).

Jared is seemingly ambivalent, saying, “He’s okay. Not my favorite, but he’s okay.”

The band is gathered around a huge sheet pizza at this point, courtesy of the friendly Ace of Cups bartender. Drew wanders back over and orders a Lone Star again, and I’m obliged to point out that he’s clearly the rebellious member of the band due to his beverage choice.

Drew laughs, saying, “I’m the old one,” then launches into an extended speech on the virtues of cheap beer.

Eventually he peters out and then who shows up but Jeremy, once again, this time to allay me with his insecurities about the interview we did a few weeks ago (that I just referenced). He’s concerned mainly with the question that I asked him about what his favorite movie was, explaining that he’s somewhat of an avid cinephile and still hasn’t come up with an answer that he feels is accurately representative of his tastes. The conversation is leisurely, but it’s reassuring to me that these musicians feel just as awkward as I do about these kinds of PR spectacles.

The entire ensemble assembles on stage, and their extended warm up session slowly evolves into a real, live, actual performance.
Regrettably, I cannot write this review without using the term “surf rock,” not to say there’s anything wrong with that per se, however, according to all the “in the know” bloggers and journalists and whatnot, Lazyeyes is considered to be a mixture of “dream pop” and “psych-shoegaze,” both of which are genres I’m confident the reader knows even less than I do (however, if you’d like a definition, see below).

That being said, their performance sounds a lot more like surf rock when it’s live than when it’s recorded in studio. After they play their first song, Jason shouts out, “This is our first time in Columbus!”

An anonymous crowd member breaks the stony hipster silence and shouts, “Whoo yeah!”

“Could you be alive here? / would you be alive here?” I don’t know. I feel quite alive at this venue, but aren’t we all dying a bit every second of the day? For some reason this song reminds me of The Wonder Years. Three songs in, Sam lets his guitar reverb all over the place and Jason shouts,
“Thank you, we are Lazyeyes!” (That’s what we like to call a cold open, folks).

They drop into “Daydream” off of their self-titled EP, and I quickly survey each member individually for their stage presence. Jeremy, who I have surmised is the spokesperson for the band, is ripping it up on the drums. Jason is quite short and non-threatening on a stage of this size; however, he is by far the most physically active member of the band during their performance. Sam and Drew both kind of hang back on stage, although Drew does some leading of the crowd, at one point announcing, “This is our last show with Eternal Summers. We had a great time, even though we almost killed one of their band members”

I asked around about this story later and found out that they had gone to a Walgreens after a show in Chicago (little known fact, Walgreens is heads and tails far away the most popular store in Illinois). They purchased a bottle of Jim Beam and took it back to their hotel room. Once arriving there, a fellow joined them by the name of Jonathan (the bassist for Eternal Summers) who proceeded to drink whiskey until he passed out in the bathtub.

The show has a super low production value, but that kind of jives with the low-key persona of Lazyeyes’ music. My one complaint is that the crowd is a little too reserved and stoic for me (I count five flannel; and knitted cap wearing dudes standing arms crossed watching the show with an air of pretension, and I think they were all related).

Into “Wait,” which is by far my favorite song, there’s quite a bit of wailing and reverb and this remains consistent throughout their work. Not to say their tracks are all identical, but they have found a sound and stuck with it.

Jason, the vocalist, does quite a bit of guitar soloing at their live performances that you don’t get to hear on their EPs, and their concerts are intimate in a garage band kind of way that’s absent from so many shows.

Drew shouts out, “We are grateful sons of bitches, but we are sons of bitches nonetheless.” Despite the claim that he’s the oldest member of the band, he’s by far the most quotable of the group.

I use the bathroom and come back out just in time to hear their last two songs. Jared looks at me with excitement brimming over in his eyes and shouts above the loud room “Sam lost his hat halfway through the last song.”

I look over to check it out and lo and behold there sits Sam, cap-less as I’ve never seen him before.

The second to last song they play is very indie rock, with driving, forward paced beats. It’s simple and easy and enjoyable.

When they go into their last tune, Sam, Drew, and Jason are all in on the vocals and they look warmed up despite the pretentious hipsters which
dominate the crowd, with Jason screaming, “Let me in / I don’t want to give in.”

The show abruptly ends and I step outside for a smoke. I ask Jared what he thought of the show, and he ponders for a moment before saying, “They were pretty good. I thought the acoustics were not optimal (sorry Ace of Cups). I think my favorite part was Drew’s falsetto harmonies. I also liked Jeremy on the drums. He had nice transitions.”

As I walk out, I compliment Jason’s hair and find out that Sam does on the road haircuts. They invite me to visit the next time I’m in Brooklyn. Like I said, very friendly guys.

Shoegazing (also known as shoegaze) is a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s and reached peak popularity in the early 1990s. The style is typified by significant use of distortion, feedback, obscured vocals and the blurring of component musical parts into indistinguishable "walls of sound.”

Dream pop is a subgenre of alternative rock that developed in the 1980s. The style is typified by a preoccupation with atmosphere and texture as much as melody, often resulting in an ethereal or dream-like sound.