The Hi-Dive was full to the brim on Monday night with fans of Miniature Tigers and Freelance Whales, two bands that have garnered praise in the past year for their danceable brand of indie pop. It was a logical line-up, and I expected to do some toe-tapping at the very least.
Miniature Tigers, supporting its sophomore release “Fortress,” has a sound that ambles around what the Beatles and other pop groups established. Their vocals are solid, and on their record they are inviting and engaging. On the Hi-Dive stage, though, Miniature Tigers’ sound was washed and hesitant, with surprisingly low energy. Toward the middle of the set, the guys hit their stride for a couple groovy numbers that sounded like electric guitar-spiked doo-wop.
Overall, the set felt a little less than genuine, full of songs that sounded like someone else’s played with lackluster enjoyment.
I have seen Freelance Whales before, and they deliver their shiny hooks with endearing harmonies – and they tickle some glockenspiel in the mix to round out their accessible appeal. The two times I’ve seen them in the past year have been enjoyable, all dancing and hopping and clapping along to the Brooklyn band’s pop tunes. But when the Freelance Whales launched into their set on Monday it was shockingly messy. Rhythms were off, vocals were unintentionally dissonant and nothing coalesced.
Freelance Whales have their tight, bright sound that makes up for their lack of edge. But when that cohesion came undone, it sounded like sparkly mayhem up there. I am thankful I still enjoy both of these bands’ albums, and as with many bands that get that kind of hype, I hope to see them develop their live sound for their next tour.
Kathleen Tarrant is a Boulder writer whose other work can be found on her blog, My Best Friend’s Arm.
Shawn Parker is a Denver-based freelance photographer and web developer.