10/13/16 – The Middle East – Upstairs

SALES sounded like they just rolled out of bed.

They missed soundcheck due to traffic and despite a quick onstage warm-up, they radiated groggy Monday morning feels. Unfortunately, the Orlando rock-pop duo requires careful live mixing. Though the spacey production is part of what makes SALES’s recorded material enjoyable, the echoey guitar lines and muffled vocals of this live performance fell flat and textures on tracks like “trapped in a club” and “renee” got lost.

“Thanks so much for coming,” mumbled guitarist Jordan Shih. Lauren Morgan, vocalist and guitarist. The band had expanded to include a touring drummer, Joy Cyr. As a disco ball spun to the sluggish beat of “Big Sis,” Cyr’s crisp snare added definition to the muddled instrumentation.

Fuzzy sound can work for the underground acts that play The Middle East. But for SALES it corroded the clarity of their The xx-style guitar lines. The echo effects on “crash” and “thurs 6-25” felt less like trailing thoughts and more like collisions. It was as if Morgan were interrupting herself. “Ok, ok, ok…” she sang-talked into the microphone.

Though their style lends itself to smooth transitions, SALES never attempted to blend their setlist. The performance was routinely disrupted by silences. The audience took the dead air as invitation to initiate a question and answer shouting match: “Creamy peanut butter or crunchy?” “Jordan, where’d you get your glasses from?” “What’s your favorite song by Beach House?”

SALES jumped on the opportunity to interact with their fans. Shih answered some questions—he said his glasses are “very generic”—and fired back his own: “What’s everyone’s favorite fruits?”

As the band settled in on stage, we finally glimpsed their true potential. “This song is about a super special person. We haven’t found her yet,” said Morgan with a sigh as she plucked the first chords of “renee.

On “ivy,” Morgan’s fingers crept up the fretboard, a guitar solo that ends with a flourish of the hand. SALES won themselves a deserved sing-along with fan-favorite “getting it on.” Morgan sang with eyes shut, repeatedly questioning, “What did you get? What did you give?”

Before the set came to a close, Morgan ran behind the curtain to urge the drummer to join her back on stage. They played a new song that featured grungier, shouted vocals reminiscent of Courtney Barnett. Intentional restarts—initiated by Morgan counting off—engaged the crowd in sporadic, excited dancing. The song ended with a crescendo and burst in speed. It was a taste of the energy SALES could have given throughout.

Concert Conversations with SALES
Pros
  • Interacted with crowd and answered their questions
  • Energetic ending
  • New song shows promise
Cons
  • Sound was a bit muddled and garbled
  • Sluggish start
7.2Overall Score

One Response

  1. Mark

    The chick who repeatedly yelled questions like “What’s your favorite Dorito?” was the biggest “Con” of this show imo. I enjoyed the performance a lot, just wish they played the Great Scott or BMH.

    Reply

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