Monday, April 12, 2010

Show review: The Morning Benders & Miniature Tigers at Lincoln Hall, 4/12/10

Two indie pop buzz bands - Berkeley's The Morning Benders and Phoenix's Miniature Tigers - are slotted to play Lollapalooza in August (the Benders will also open for Broken Bells May 31 at the Vic), but Chicago fans had the opportunity to see them in a more intimate setting Monday night at Lincoln Hall.

The Morning Benders (photo by Frank Krolicki)

While both bands' sounds could be described by terms such as "laid-back," "breezy" and "West Coast," the Benders veer into hazier, more psychedelic territory, especially on material from their recently-released LP, Big Echo. Overall, the record is more about a big atmospheric sound rather than major hooks or tracks with huge personalities that grab you right away, and for the most part their headlining live set followed suit. Songs that arguably meander in recorded form, such as "Mason Jar" and "Pleasure Sighs," seemed much more powerful played live and loud. The strongest moments, though, came via the band's more upbeat material, including the lush, doo-wop-influenced "Excuses" (which closed the show on a very high note), the brisk, guitar-driven "Promises" and "All Day Day Light," which frontman Chris Chu encouraged the crowd to dance to. The performance was tight, the material was great and the Benders seemed like stand-up, genuinely appreciative guys, so if you couldn't catch them this time around it would definitely be a good idea to make time for them when they come back to the Windy City with Broken Bells or for Lollapalooza.

For their opening set, Miniature Tigers focused more on hooks, lighthearted, quirky lyrics and overall accessibility, as heard on their debut 2008 LP, Tell It to the Volcano. That record is a lot of fun, so it was a bit disappointing the band only played two songs from it - the title track and "Dino Damage." It would have been especially nice to hear the incredibly infectious "Cannibal Queen," their most popular song. Instead, most of the performance consisted of material presumably from their forthcoming follow-up LP, Fortress. Even though most of it wasn't familiar, it was all still highly enjoyable - especially an instantly catchy, dancey tune called "Coyote Enchantment." Like The Morning Benders, Miniature Tigers put on an excellent show, seemed like quality dudes and made it easy to root for their continued success.

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