With broken bones and groovy james, Sun Parade kicked off their summer tour at Boston’s Lizard Lounge.

6/21/18 – Lizard Lounge

To the unsuspecting audience, hospital scrubs were a surprising sartorial choice for Sun Parade on the opening night of their tour. When the first four members appeared in white and blue scrubs to set up their instruments on the Lizard Lounge stage, they did so with a curious nonchalance. Their clothes were clearly in jest, but the joke was unclear. At that point, vocalist and guitarist Chris Marlon Jennings sat down wearing nothing but sunglasses and a short hospital gown, which revealed the thick cast on his left ankle. The room filled with scattered laughter as the audience slowly understood the punchline. “Break a leg!” a fan shouted as the grinning band began to play.

Opening with their new song “MOFO,” the band set the tone for a groovy, summery set interspersed with moody, hard rock. “MOFO” in particular felt timelessly cool—it reflected the band’s relaxed energy, which was perfectly punctuated by the dark sunglasses worn by both vocalists/guitarists Chris Marlon Jennings and Jeff Lewis. The band’s confidence in their songs and stage presence made each song feel like a carefree, breezy jam session. The band burst with the rhythmic energy of syncopated riffs and spacey effects, seamlessly weaving through fun and upbeat songs such as “Game Boy” and “See You in the Sunshine.

Jeff Lewis brought life to the stage with his sprightly dancing. Though Jennings’ seated isolation could have posed a challenge for the band’s chemistry, the members’ head bobbing and thrashing jumps were natural and fun. Like Lewis’s, Jennings’ voice was a commanding presence on its own, especially in his smooth and clear falsetto. Jennings’ voice was a frequent stand-out, especially during “Heart’s Out” when he calmly stopped playing his guitar, crossed his arms behind his back, and gently sang the line “Maybe cause it makes it eeeeeeasy.” Sequestered to his chair, he certainly made performing live with a cast look and sound remarkably easy.

When the band finally addressed Jennings’ broken ankle, they joked that his injury was the result of “falling off of a ten-story building.” But Jennings quickly revealed that he got hurt after chasing a bouncy ball, a toy he fiercely loves. The audience hooted, assuming it was another joke, until he answered with a self-deprecating laugh, “I’m not joking.”

Throughout the night, the band played hits from their studio albums Yossis and Shuggy Mtn Breakdown, tracks from their EP Heart’s Out, and new unreleased songs. While joking on stage and playing sweet, bubbly songs, the band also sunk into their broodier rock songs like “Steal My Thunder” and “Psycho,” which the audience head banged and applauded enthusiastically. However, Sun Parade’s heavier songs sometimes ended sloppily with guitar licks and echoes that left the songs feeling unresolved and lackluster, thus stunting the band’s song-to-song momentum. But the band landed on its feet by returning to the bouncier songs, with “Cheer Up” as the appropriately positive finale that gave way to fans demanding an encore. Emboldened by the crowd, Jennings literally found his footing, hopping on one foot during his long guitar solo as the audience cheered him on.

On the first leg of their tour, Sun Parade showed that their tight instrumentation, clear vocals, and slick effects work just as well live as they do in the studio. Despite minor missteps (and broken ankles), Sun Parade stuck the landing with a dose of sugary sweet tunes.

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