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Vinyl Theatre @ The Rave

Jan. 13, 2017

Jan. 16, 2017
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Photo credit: Janelle Rominski/The Rave

It’s the middle of January, and we’re in the midst of an incredibly toxic political transition—this is not exactly the time for summer ear candy. But try telling that to hometown heroes Vinyl Theatre, who had a blast despite all that and put on a spirited rock show at The Rave.

As a sort of warm-up show for their tour with Dashboard Confessional starting on Tuesday, singer/guitarist Keegan Calmes informed the largely teenage crowd that their performance doubled as a way to debut new music due out later this month. Played alongside fan favorites like “Gold,” “Summer,” and “The Rhythm Of Night,” the new compositions fit right in with their established pop-punk-meets-The-Killers sound. (Fittingly enough, the band segued from a new song into the second half of “All These Things That I’ve Done” mid-set.)

While the Milwaukee trio is a well-oiled machine of drums, keyboards, and guitar (they have yet to replace their bassist that they lost last year), Calmes who was the star of the show. Coming out wearing a purple coat straight from Prince’s closet, it was soon discarded because of his stage presence. Between jogging in place while playing and singing, darting around the stage like a ping pong ball, or jumping off of a speaker mid-song, his seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy allowed for an Oscar-worthy performance as a frontman.

Of course, keyboardist Chris Senner and drummer Nick Cesarz kept up with Calmes’ enthusiasm and were all smiles right alongside him during their 80-minute performance. In fact, the exuberance displayed between the band suggested they were as happy to be there as their fans. Generally speaking, the best concerts happen when the band shares in the fun with the audience, and it was no different here with the audience shouting along with every song they knew. Each band member even got a chance to show off with a solo. Interestingly, the surprise drum solo/keyboard duel late in the show hinted that Vinyl Theatre might have a desire to expand sonically in the future.

Naturally, the band came back for a two song encore after their set, which included an acoustic-with-piano-accompaniment rendition of Coldplay’s “Fix You.” It was perhaps an odd choice for them, and a bit saccharine. It was also kind of fitting, because Calmes and company clearly aspired to fix the world’s problems simply by rocking out for their fans. While they may not have fixed any problems, they likely succeeded in making the crowd forget they had any to begin with—and sometimes, that’s enough.


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