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#2 Crushing It (Crush Scene, Jonger, Lulu and the Shoe)

I attended Crush Scene, Jonger, and Lulu and the Shoe at Cloudland on Thursday night, January 11, 2024.  An eclectic mix of bands, they formed a cohesive show that I thoroughly enjoyed.

This was my first time at Cloudland Theater. It is a cozy space with a minimal bar, more geared towards music than drinking. The space features a large standing floor with limited seating space around the edges. The room sounded excellent—all the bands sounded balanced and clear. I will definitely be attending shows there again.

Lulu and the Shoe played first. Lead singers/guitarists Hayley Anne and Solomon Flynn weave dreamy, intricate melodies held in time by Cassidy Anderson’s drums. The guitar parts serve as extra voices in the counterpoint, essentially making a four part counterpoint between the two vocals and the two guitars. They blend their vocals beautifully, but the real treat here is the attention to guitar tone. The guitars blend as well as the vocals, creating an intimate and beautiful landscape. They are reminiscent of 2000s indie music with inspiration drawn from Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie. They also manage to have a clear shoegaze influence, despite the lack of guitar effects. Uncomplicated on the surface, Lulu and the Shoe weave an atmosphere filled with more and more depth the further one listens.

Jonger played second. In the absence of their drummer, lead singer/guitarist Dakota Rudolph filled in on the drums during the first part of the set. He has a strong voice, and the band supports it well, featuring the silky basslines of Nick Smith complemented by arpeggiated guitar lines of Noah Grose. Their songs ranged from smooth interwoven guitar and bass to blistering, guitar driven hard rock tunes, to slow, building epics. Midway through the set, they dropped the drums. Dakota switched to guitar, and the guitarist switched to electric violin. The instrument shifting was done smoothly and unexpectedly, piquing the crowd’s interest. For the last few songs of the set, the guitarist took the drum kit while the vocalist picked up the guitar, returning to the power trio setup. Jonger presents a bold and powerful set of rock songs that are simultaneously fun and thought provoking.

Crush Scene finished the lineup. A four piece punk inspired rock outfit, Crush Scene features Madalyn Rowell on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Rachael Guertin on the lead guitar, Janet Kolterman on the bass, and Tasha Spencer on the drums. Although their music is firmly rooted in the rock genre, it is lightly peppered with other influences ranging from country to doo-wop. They provide a fun atmosphere, and the clever, no-nonsense songwriting really supports it. The songwriting combined with Madalyn’s powerful vocals could sell this by itself, however I was particularly impressed by the dynamic between the lead vocal and the lead guitar. Rachael’s lead tone and stylings cut through Madalyn’s vocal perfectly, tempering it and supporting it at the same time. The audience was clearly there for it, as they demanded a two song encore, which the band happily obliged. They ended the encores with a request for their song “Vans Difference,” a song featuring lyrics compiled from “shitty things men have said to us”. Crush Scene definitely left an impression, and I am excited to see what they do next.

Be sure to check out their single release at the Hook and Ladder Mission Room on March 1!

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