There are a handful of bands hitting their stride right now, others on the verge of some really big things. Sweet Pill happens to be dealing with both simultaneously - and it’s quite special to see happening in real time.
I fully recognize that my music bubble is fairly specific, sometimes niche, but pretty open-minded. I’d seen a promoted post on Facebook for this show, and one of the two comments was an older white dude that said something to the effect of, “Sure, most of the bands I like are dead, but at least people have heard of them.” Real Old Guy Yells At Clouds energy. It’s a mindset that I simply can’t fathom. Especially if that means missing bands like Sweet Pill.
Last night’s show at Madison Live was a short one - started early, finished early. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a show on a weeknight with only two bands on the bill. Old Tired Guy Me, though, wasn’t too mad about it. Local Lost Henry acted as the opener, playing a set that ended up being almost as long as the headliner. Mostly new songs, with a few older tunes at the end, it was fun watching a band trying to figure themselves out and hone in on what they’re going to be able to do best. Dance-y, at times heavy-ish, it feels like they’re trying to maybe work themselves into the space that Walk The Moon held before they blew up. Something like The Killers mixed with Matt & Kim (specifically the vocals and keys) with maybe a little Silverstein? I’ll be curious to see where they go from here.
For a stormy Thursday night in NKY, I was surprised by the turnout - even though I knew somehow that it was going to be fairly decent. Sweet Pill has garnered a lot of attention for not just a phenomenal debut record (out now on Topshelf Records), but for a bombastic, entertaining, and super tight live show. Having caught them as openers on the La Dispute Wildlife Tour last year at Bogart’s, I had an idea of what to expect, but even so, I was genuinely impressed by how much they’ve improved since then. Amazing what constant touring can do for a band over the course of just a few months. And this being the last date on their most current run - including several highly regarded performances at SXSW as part of their tour with They’re/Their/There - you could see the results for yourself from note one.
Their set featured tracks from the previously mentioned debut full-length, Where The Heart Is, plus a new song already in the works. The album was among my absolute favorites last year, and is still in pretty heavy rotation even now. A mix of emotive post-hardcore, dynamic vocals, insanely fun guitar riffs, all held together in an offbeat, slightly off-center way - it’s an album that’s surprising every time you listen to it. Their live show, a chance to highlight the sleight of hand technical proficiency of each member of the band, and even more so, the gigantic stage presence of their vocalist, fully captures the energy and inventiveness of what the album promises. “I’ve been listening to and going to see a lot of 5th wave emo bands, and they’re all great, but none of them are executing at anything near that level,” a buddy of mine said at the end. I couldn’t agree more.
Judging by the number of people there, and by the amount of folks there that I knew, Sweet Pill’s caught the ears - and eyes - of a much bigger audience than I’m guessing even they anticipated. They’re taking a few weeks off, then hitting the road again with Origami Angel and Pinkshift, two bands who are heralds of the new guard within the increasingly broad umbrella of “emo,” though all 3 eschew easy classification. Like everyone else there last night, I cannot wait to see where the band goes, and what they do next. I suggest you start paying attention now.