- Published on Friday, 05 March 2010 07:52
Review/Photos: A Sunny Day in Glasgow at Schubas Tavern in Chicago, IL; 3.3.10
words and photos by Kirstie Shanley
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The very band name of A Sunny Day in Glasgow actually hints at improbability. A sunny day in Glasgow? That’s like a cold day in the netherworld. Yet, the band has a very accessible and catchy sound that has survived numerous lineup changes and what some might call shifts in sound or direction. Mainly from Philadelphia, the band is now a six piece with Ben Daniels leading the group. You wouldn’t necessarily realize this from their stage presence, however, as Daniels tends to let the female presence dominate and lead the youthful sets they are becoming increasingly well known for.
Though the music is made up of original compositions vs. covers and has a much different feel to it (think shoegaze crossed with light hearted indie pop), the live presence of the band bears some similarities to Nouvelle Vague. Mainly, it’s the two beautiful females that stand out the most up front in the light while the four men behind them really serve to give the songs their lush sound. In fact, it was difficult to see most of the males on stage because of the size of the band and where they positioned themselves. Jen Goma and Annie Fredrickson lived it up front playing keyboards but mainly singing in glorious union. They also seemed to be having the time of their lives between their dancing and their hair flips, which made the band increasingly fun to watch. Their positive energy even recalled twee bands such as The Brunettes in terms of their happy demeanor and sense of un-self-conscious fun.
It also bears mentioning that the six piece isn’t trying to one up eachother live. Though there are layers of instrumentation, no one member dominates with an extended play. You won’t hear any intricate guitar solos or attention given to bombastic drums, for example. Instead, there is a glowing sense of unity that its members are working together to make the sound possible and an enjoyable experience for everyone. In fact, it wasn’t the least bit surprising to see audience members dancing around to the songs with a gleeful response.
In some ways, the overall sound of A Sunny Day in Glasgow is not too surprising considering the rise in popularity of shoegaze bands such as The Besnard Lakes and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. A Sunny Day in Glasgow is much closer to the latter, especially with their recent output and stage presence. There are no reeling guitars or heavy progressions weighting the songs down. There’s really only the ethereal, which was one thing that was unfortunately reduced live in comparison to some of their album recordings. It’s possible that the band’s sound will evolve even further after this most recent release, Nitetime Rainbows EP. There’s a likelihood that they could become a much more mainstream act. Let’s hope if that happens, they won’t sacrifice all the hopes and dreams that have made all their songs worthwhile.
Playing a 50 long minute set, the band succeeded in captivating the audience with songs like “Shy” and “Failure” as well as a surprising encore cover of “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac. Though their set length was substantial, like many good shows it felt like it was finished too soon, as if by the time the audience was completely engaged, they were departing the stage, leaving their fans to long for more. Let’s hope they come back soon!