New Orleans indie-pop outfit Generationals performed at High Noon Saloon this past week with their low-key, Wednesday night set. The rustic brick walls lined with arcade games — think Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle pinball — of High Noon just sort of felt right alongside the minimalist, new wave vibe.
Uniquely at the intersection of tech and simplicity, duo Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer have been flinging out half-synth, half-rock beats since their debut collection, Con Law, dropped in 2009. Dubbed after 2008 election rhetoric, where news coverage seemed to deem every issue a ‘generational’ one, the group now has a handful of albums, a tour with Two Door Cinema Club and a commercial feature (or two) under their belt.
Yet, the indie-pop band hovers between painfully normal, and futuristically seductive. Their set, marked solely by light panels on either side of the stage, pulsating between a range of colors and patterns, was mild. Not in a disappointing way, however — their stillness on stage forced folks in the audience to respect them for their tracks rather than showmanship, and the clean, concise nature of each song was respectable.
Couples slow dancing across the saloon’s half-empty floor blended with the headbanging, presumably uber-fans, as a dreamlike, almost hypnotic-state that overwhelmed the space. Interspersing their new tracks with the old, the 22-song set didn’t feel drawn out, but rather a casual, surprisingly feel-good evening of stinging vocals and serious Pat-Benatar-meets-jungle jams.
Fan favorite “When They Fight, They Fight” was naturally pleasing, but more intriguing was the performance of their most recent album, which took on a far less hurried tone than their previous work.
“I’ve Been Wrong Before” adequately set the stage — quirky, agreeable, cool — with its lofty arcs and responsive empathy. Following, “Gatekeeper” is one of the most impressive on the album, and can be best described as a milder love-child between Talking Heads and Modest Mouse. Effective falsetto, fascinating drum work and engaging (without tipping over onto the side of ‘overwhelming’) background tracks fuse into three minutes of aesthetic deliverance.
“I Turned My Back on the Written Word” is an upbeat, yet slightly passive song with wildly catchy vocal samples, and was trailed by the massively buoyant “Xeno Bobby” with its playful lyricism and hella soundtrack vibes. “A List of the Virtues” is, for a lack of better words, just chill, offering an ambient reprieve from the occasionally harsh synth music of the Generationals.
Reminiscent of British Invasion pop with a mid-song angelic twist, “Breaking Your Silence” combines rugged vocals with fast-paced instrumentals to emulate that slightly sticky-sweet grit left on your teeth after eating a piece of candy.
They naturally ended the night with their top track, “Put a Light On,” which served as yet another reminder that innovative music doesn’t need to be densely pretentious — it can also just be damn fun.
Sam Jones is an opinion editor for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of her work, click here.