The Austin-based indie rock band is a reminder of the value of the moment.
Thursday night at Gasa Gasa;The Eastern Sea put on a show that reminded people that a band's value is more than its recordings, radio single, or promotional buzz. It's not about what the band could be; it’s about the epiphany in a song's bridge and how the guy next to you dances with his shoulders and the lead singer's glasses, slicked with sweat, are about to fall off. It's about how these moments, stuffed with vulnerability and wild charisma, can never be replicated or exactly recorded.
The Eastern Sea has the misleading tendency to come off as a bit too cleaned-up, too safe. The band's first impression is that it's good but not great, with band members who looked like a bunch of frat guys who stumbled upon some instruments and tried them out. In this case, however, it paid not to judge based on appearances: The Eastern Sea live is a very different band than the one listeners might expect based on its recorded material.
Onstage, the band had a confident, magnetic presence. The group's energy made the show feel like a packed festival performance, rather than a room of their tour mates and friends. This charisma was due in large part to lead singer and guitarist Matt Hines, whose voice was warmer and had more range than the band's last album The Plague gave me reason to expect.
The Eastern Sea's music isn't very complicated, but what it lacks in complexity it makes up for in sincere, infectious melodies. The triumphant climax of lead single "The Match," the thrum of "A Lie," and the insistent rise and fall of their new material is easy to love on first listen. Even cramped onto Gasa Gasa's tiny stage, where (it looked like the bassist was about to knock over the drum set at any second, the five band members looked like they were having the best night of their lives.
The group's performance made it clear that there's still something to be said for the visceral immediacy of live music and a band that plays well. It's easy for bands like The Eastern Sea to get lost in the Next Big Thing shuffle; but on Thursday night, the group didn't need to be the coolest kids on the block for its audience to take note. It did what great bands have always been doing -- played music that felt true, here and now.