Denver’s own Bad Weather California stopped by the Hi-Dive on Thursday to kick off a 10-day mini-tour that’ll double as a recording studio road-trip for the boys’ insofar untitled second LP. Though the album hasn’t been cut yet, the show played out like a release party performance (as advertised): Their hour-long set was composed almost entirety of the new material, with the odd B-side and old standard stuck in for good measure.
The sound was a definite departure from the anthemic, aloe-vera beach rock of their debut, “Sunkissed,”—whose sole tip of the hat last night came in a jammed-in “Stand in My Sunshine.” Unless you recognized their faces on stage, you could have easily mistaken them for a different band. They’ve all-but ditched the once omnipresent flanger (still a whisper of it in “BBQ,” though it probably won’t make the album seeing as it has already been cut to picnic plate plastic as a promo) in favor of, well, no flanger.
The feel was darker as a result, or maybe just not as relentlessly optimistic as before. At times, it smacked of Modest Mouse, but without all the constant harping on death and infinity. One song was about “meeting a teenage girl in the 1990s,” according to frontman Chris Adolf. Another was “about going to the mall.” “They’re all about going to the mall,” bassist Joe Sampson joked.
The crowd at the Hi-Dive seemed to jell with the new material, even on the down-tempo B-side, “Hamburger Stand” near the end of the set, with heads down, swaying and sloshing beer to the new rhythm. It wasn’t as rowdy as your usual BWC show, but neither was the music. More “Bad Weather” than “California,” but not down-troddenly so. There’s still drums, after all—even though percussionist Logan Corcoran did break his snare at one point in the evening.
Performing a set of new songs from a markedly divergent, unrecorded album is a risky play, but thanks to a solid showing from their fans—and more importantly, some great material—Bad Weather California made it work at the Hi-Dive on Thursday.
Dylan Owens is Reverb’s indie and bluegrass blogger. You can read more from him in Relix magazine and the comment sections of WORLDSTARHIPHOP.
Lisa Higginbotham is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.