“Brooklyn! You guys are absolutely beautiful and wonderful,” said Christo Bowman, the frontman of LA-based indie rock band Bad Suns. He continued, saying, “It’s so great to be back in New York City.” With cheers, screams, whistles, and claps, the audience was eager to welcome the rockers back to Brooklyn for an infectious set at Brooklyn Steel on April 18. Before Bad Suns brought their spirited harmonies and fiery guitar solos into the spotlight, their opener energized the crowd.
First to take the stage was the opening act Carlie Hanson, a trending pop star who rose to critical acclaim in 2017 with her viral hit, “Only One.” Along with her popular debut song, the 18-year-old singer performed her singles, “Numb,” “Toxins,” and “Why Did You Lie?,” displaying a vocal range and ability beyond her years.
While twirling across the entire stage, the liveliness of the fresh-faced singer had the whole front row jumping along with her. Unreleased tracks, “Back In My Arms,” “Where You At,” and “Hazel,” (which Hanson said was her favorite song she had written) were included in her setlist. The rising star concluded her portion of the show with “Us,” a love song that oozed confident lyrics as her vibrato resonated loud and clear.
The alternating deep red, blue and violet spotlights then lightly dimmed. They revealed a geometric backdrop that resembled an optical illusion. Four silhouettes dressed in all black stepped onstage as the entire venue cheered in approval. Bowman (vocals and guitar), Ray Libby (guitar), Gavin Bennett (bass and keyboard), and Miles Morris (drums) assumed their positions to deliver a set of dynamic, feel-good, and enthusiastic indie rock.
“She’s a sunrise dressed like dusk,” sang Bowman, the charismatic lead singer and guitarist of Bad Suns to the packed former warehouse. “He’s a moth drawn to a flame, he’s going in, he’s going all-or-nothing.” With clever metaphors, and lyrics reflecting personal accounts of love, nostalgia, and growing up, the LA natives brought their crowd to the days of their youth.
Their backing instrumentals put ‘80s synths, post-punk guitar riffs, solid basslines, and Bowman’s falsetto on full display. Similar to The Cure’s melodies, The Clash’s energy, or hitting somewhere in-between, Bad Suns whipped through a setlist depicting their varied discography, performing stadium-ready anthems as their audience reflected, danced, and reflected some more.
From their 2014 debut release, Language & Perspective, the animated rockers played hits like “Cardiac Arrest,” “Salt,” and “We Move Like the Ocean”. Fan-favorites performed from their 2016 critically-acclaimed sophomore effort, Disappear Here, included the wildy streamed “Daft Pretty Boys,” “Violet,” and “Swimming in the Moonlight.”
Inflated balloons bounced in the air from concertgoer to concertgoer. The lights then glowed from the kaleidoscopic backdrop as Bad Suns played tracks from their brand new release, Mystic Truth. From the captivating piano chords on “Starjumper,” to the keys solo on “Away We Go,” to the resonant synthesizers on “Hold Your Fire,” the four-piece continuously proved their crisp, clean sound is well-crafted live as well as when recorded.
“How many people have been listening to us since our first record?” asked Bowman to the Brooklynites. Hands shot up immediately and shouts echoed through the venue. “Who is seeing us for the first time?” Newcomers cheered as Bowman smiled and thanked them for coming, “We’ve been waiting for you all, welcome!”
After closing their set, collective calls for an encore could be heard from the street outside Brooklyn Steel. Bad Suns returned and gave their fans an ear-pleasing additional performance. They ended the night with “Off She Goes,” and “Heartbreaker,” invigorating tracks that emphasized their signature endearing melodies and explosive guitar riffs. Before departing, Bad Suns enchanted the masses by playing the last track of the night, “One Magic Moment,” from their new album.
From Bowman touching the hands of the entire front row to each member completely letting loose with wild, fervent playing, it was undeniable that he and his bandmates can light up any room they walk into. Bowman blew kisses to the crowd as the group left the stage for the final time.
Whether their articulate lyrics warrant tears from their devotees or unforgettable guitar hooks make fans dance and spin, Bad Suns showed us their Mystic Truth, that they have the uncanny ability to make a crowd feel a wide range of emotions in just one night.