by Erin Resso
on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 1:06 PM
Last night, Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen of Tanlines took the stage at Neumos knowing that they were supposed to play the smaller room below. Because of that, Cohen confessed that he felt he needed to "really bring it", and he certainly did not disappoint. With an impressive percussive array at hand - snare, tom, bongos, crash, MIDI drum pads, synths, and laptop—Cohen and Emm brought a pumped up set to a pumped up crowd, who comfortably wiggled and shook throughout their 11 song set. There were even a handful of crowd surfers—at a synth pop show. Not too shabby.
To open their set, the duo played a stripped down "Rain Delay," with Emm singing over his delayed guitar strums and Cohen relegated to a synthesized base line. It was interesting to hear the prospect of Tanlines as a guitar-driven outfit, but, thankfully, they unleashed their percussive prowess by the next song, "Brothers." Cohen is adept with multitasking, laying down a drum beat, then synth pads, then looping that for a stride while he plays another keyboard fill, then picking up the drumsticks again. It was impressive to watch and sounded great on Neumos' big sound system.
With their wheels greased, the duo cruised through a good chunk of their debut album Mixed Emotions and a few older instrumental tracks (one of which sounded like it could be played at a Decibel show after midnight—with a pounding 4/4 beat and layers of synth crescendos and builds). They also showed off a brand new track, a bit of a change of pace with a driving, motorik rhythm and some heavier guitar work. Emm's voice is a lot more complex than what we hear on record, certainly grittier and even tinged with a bluesy croon that lent well to some of the more vocal driven tracks, especially set-closer "Not the Same," which was downright propulsive and left the dispersing crowd with smiles on their faces.
Looking back, perhaps the band's choice to start off with "Rain Delay," with it's choral refrain "It's just a dream, it's just a dream, it's just a dream" was simply a promise of the set to follow… and what a great dream it was.