A haunting drum section chimed in against a persistent bass line. The occasional reverb of a lead guitar weeped as the five-piece ensemble offered their echoing, whispery vocals.
The Los Angeles-based indie rock band Milo Greene, originally from Northern California, opened their set with the rhythmically-haunting “I Know About You” off their new Never Ender EP, released this past February 24th through Nettwerk Records.
Although the band finds a second home in San Francisco, it’s been a year since Milo Greene has hit the road.
“A part of the reason we haven’t toured in so long is because we spent the last year writing and recording,” guitarist and vocalist Graham Fink said. “We self-produced the EP without an outside producer, which was different than our first two records. We did a couple drum tracking days, but largely recorded everything ourselves in our living rooms.”
Playing their second show at the intimate Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco last Thursday, March 9, the band was humbled to sell-out all of their shows for their entire West Coast tour.
“It feels f**king good to play again,” Fink said to the audience.
Their infamous energy often felt from their live performances was not amiss. Last year welcomed the departure of founding member and songwriter Andrew Heringer, leading to the recruitment of Charley Dam as backup guitarist, which didn’t seem to set the band back at all.
They played a mix of favorites from their debut cinematic pop record such as “What’s The Matter,” “Perfectly Aligned,” “Cutty Love” and the crowd-pleasing “1957.” They omitted their musical interludes this time around — which often made for great onstage transitions and put the audience in a spellbound flurry of musical lullabies, infectious rhythms and swoonful harmonies.
But the band, known for sharing lead and background vocals and switching instruments from song to song, kept their familiar chemistry going.
Leading into their early track “Don’t You Give Up On Me,” the band was in their element. Their rich harmonies, lush instrumentals and heartfelt lyrics which made them standout to fans who have supported them throughout the years made the room swell up.
When speaking with drummer Curtis Marrero backstage after the show, he mentioned, “It feels good to be on tour again. I’d rather have it this way.”
“After spending so many years on tour, I think we’ve all done some reflecting on where we are in our lives,” Fink wrote to me. “We’re adapting back to independence and actually being home for an extended period of time. I think the songs [off Never Ender] reflect that transition and uncertainty.”
As the band went on with the show, they joked about their various mishaps and “being awhile since we’ve played.” They played for an hour and went through their set list with a sense of ease, comfort and familiarity — like brushing up the old turntable and realizing just how fun it is to play again.
“Our songs can get so emotional that it feels good to just dance to something sad,” singer and instrumentalist Marlana Sheetz added after singing their groove-heavy, dance-filled retro-pop track “Lonely Eyes” off of 2015’s Control.
She described their desire for more upbeat tempos and danceable tracks for Control, which may have been sonically different from their debut record.
“We made those upbeat tempos so I wouldn’t feel so upset about it, if that makes any sense,” Sheetz said with a laugh. “It feels really good to be able to dance to something that is so upsetting and sad.”
After an emotional “Son My Son,” the band went into their new single “Afraid Of Everything,” a track “tempered with the ambiguity of our lives and the state of the world.”
“Time, it changes everything / And so I wait for you,” Fink sang as his vocals took the lead. Powerful and emotional, the song was aptly equipped with a hard rhythm guitar section to match the conviction in the lyrics.
“It started as a love song and by the time it came out, it was more a summation of current events,” Fink explained.
When asked what the band members’ lives look like when not playing music, Fink, a proud and vocal vegan, wrote: “I’m probably either playing soccer or basketball, organizing community action meetings, cooking vegan meals, or roaming Highland Park with my dog and girlfriend. Robbie and Marlana are probably watching all the best new movies, DJing at a cool bar, or hitting the gym.”
After closing in on the crowd favorite “1957” to a sweltering room of packed bodies, I asked Sheetz about her and Robbie’s “DJing in bars around Venice.”
“You’ve gotta pay the bills somehow,” she mentioned.
But if these shows were any testament to the success and impact this band has made on fans, things can only (and should only) look up.
After heading straight to Portland and Seattle for two more shows last weekend, the band was humbled.
“Thank you thank you thank you for an entirely sold out tour,” they wrote on their Facebook page. “We’re beyond grateful that you all came out to celebrate ‘Never Ender’ with us. Some of you traveled all the way from Connecticut and Texas. Some of you told us in post-show embraces about the tough times that our music helped get you through. Some of you had seen us play 10 times or traveled to multiple cities on this tour just to catch us play again. It all means the world. After being off the road for a while it was amazing to connect with you all. Thank you for the love. It keeps us going.”
With shared vocals and instrumentals, Milo Greene’s live performance is exciting enough. Their energy and music can take you into another world — they are more impressive live than any record could show.
Milo Greene's Never Ender EP is available to purchase on Amazon below. Be sure to also check out their past records Control (2015) and their self-titled debut record Milo Greene (2012).
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