November 20th, 2016 at Brighton Music Hall
The first snow of the season pelting down, the bouncer told me that the opener would not get on stage for another half hour. He lied; I missed the first opener.
Considering that the weather was poor and that it was a Sunday night, the crowd was small. The ballroom of Brighton Music Hall was vacuous and people looked like they were upset that they came out.
Then Streets of Loredo came on. A five piece band: a trumpeter and keyboardist, drummer, lead guitarist, back up guitarist, and vocalist, they lulled the crowd into a faux-drunken stupor, audience members swaying eyes side to side with their eyes closed throughout the set. Hailing from New Zealand, Streets of Loredo was 14 days into their tour with CRX promoting their new album, Wild. The early portion of their set offered slow, steady beats with droning rhythmic melodies all held together by the brief overlaying sound of the trumpet. It sounded patriotic, almost Gaelic at times. The lead singer, wearing a Bruins shirt, gradually came alive, crouching down to the edge of the stage, chatting more and more with his band mates and the audience between songs. Although their music was not particularly memorable, they did carry a certain likability. Maybe this was because the lead singer told the audience that he’d gotten married only two weeks earlier, but regardless. Likeable.
Lead guitarist for The Strokes, Nick Valensi, led his new band, CRX, onto the stage shortly following Streets of Loredo’s performance. The audience came alive. Their hero was only a few feet in front of them in such an intimate setting; they couldn’t be happier. But Nick, quiet and almost afraid to approach the microphone, rushed into their first song, “Monkey Machine”, which was the only aggressive song they played during the first half of their set. CRX’s new album, New Skin, has this dichotomy between a heavy sound and a power-pop sound, and they back loaded their set with the heavy stuff. Two audience members exploded with exuberance the entire show, but besides them, the audience looked almost dumbstruck to see Valensi in a club rather than at a festival. It was only when CRX ran through their louder tracks that the audience started to move. Hitting tracks like “Unnatural”, “Slow Down”, and “Anything”, Nick came out of his shell, bending over as he ripped beautiful solos out of his guitar. It was a genuine, ol’ fashioned rock show and fun as hell too, at least for the last five tracks. The culmination of their performance, audience members head banging near the front, CRX performed “Walls”.
Halfway through CRX’s performance, Valensi said to the crowd, “Shout out to Thanksgiving, yo.” In a roundabout way, that accurately portrays the essence of the performance. Tired from having been on tour for the past two weeks, now playing the last show before their Thanksgiving break, CRX seemed aloof, imagining themselves at home eating a delicious meal with their friends and family. That being said, their music speaks for itself. It’s loud, accessible, easy to dance to, and catchy. Despite the minor annoyances along the way, CRX put on a good show.