Booking tours for up-and-coming bands can potentially be a risky proposition. Sure, most of the time, you’re safe booking at the smallest venues available, assuming that you’ll be lucky if you fill those. But occasionally, the response to a band’s new album outpaces expectations, and you’re packing small rooms when you could probably be packing mid-size rooms.
Such is the case with Electric Guest, whose burgeoning career (album produced by Danger Mouse, one of MTV’s Artists To Watch in 2012, write-up on Rolling Stone's website, appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, etc.) has them selling out smaller clubs, as they did at Kung Fu Necktie last Friday, May 4. Of course, a band would probably rather sell out a small venue easily, then struggle to fill a mid-size venue, but it does mean reaching less people. And for the audience, it means packing into a small venue and fighting for space to see a band on their way up.
Of course, May 4 was the day that we found out about the passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys. Fittingly, Beastie Boys songs were blaring on the house speakers at Kung Fu Necktie on this night, pre-show and between sets.
Opening the show was Philly band Mock Suns, who provided a decent set of quirky indie rock (if it’s any indication of their sound, they sang through a telephone at one point).
Next up was New Look, a Canadian/NYC duo, who was joining Electric Guest on tour for five dates. The crowd seemed fairly receptive to their female-fronted electro-pop, which could draw comparisons to Phantogram, at their best.
Finally, the band that the crowd was clearly waiting for, Electric Guest, took the stage. As expected from a headlining band with one album to their credit, their set consisted entirely of material off their debut album, Mondo, including standouts like “Amber”, “American Daydream”, and “Troubleman”. As befits a band with a strong 60s/70s R&B/soul vibe, lead singer Asa Taccone did his best quasi-Prince impersonation, as his falsetto dominated every song. With a stripped-down instrumentation, the songs sounded a little thin compared to the recorded versions, but keyboardist Tory Dahlhoff, bassist Todd Dahlhoff, and drummer Matt Compton did their best to fill in the gaps. The crowd, attempting to dance along despite the packed nature of the room, were receptive, especially when the band closed the set with their breakthough single, “This Head I Hold”.
After the show, the band joined the remaining crowd to watch their television debut on Late Show with David Letterman at the bar. Perhaps they could have played a larger venue, but that kind of shared experience with the crowd might not have been possible in a venue larger than Kung Fu Necktie.