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The Backseat Lovers – Live at the Wiltern Theatre: Concert Review

| Cassie Hunter

Photos by Cassie Hunter

On November 17th, The Backseat Lovers took the stage in Los Angeles to perform the entirety of their newest album, Waiting To Spill.  Although the album was released not even a month prior to the show, the young band still managed to draw a sold out crowd to the Wiltern Theatre that night.  It is clear: within just a few years of being together, the Backseat Lovers have developed an unwavering fan base that’s more than willing to support them in every endeavor.  

The show opened with supporting band Toledo, an eccentric pair of best friends from a small town in Massachusetts.  The crowd shocked the duo with their support, pulling out their phone flashlights and even cheering enthusiastically for a piece of equipment the two had affectionately named “Doug”.  The adoration of The Backseat Lovers fans did not end with the band itself;.  even early in the night, the room was filled with excited energy. From the moment The Backseat Lovers stepped on stage, it was clear why.  

The show opened with soft acoustic strumming in “Silhouette” (also the album’s first track) that quickly built to a level the band never reached in the studio.  Where many tunes from their first album, When We Were Friends, like “Kilby Girl” and “Poolhouse” have become summer indie pop anthems, their new work features many darker rock ballads that highlight their true dynamic range as songwriters and performers. The cheers of the audience immediately came to a halt as lead singer Joshua Harmon, barely above a whisper, captivated the audience with the sinister lyrics of the opening track, “Run while you can/while you are still the silhouette of a man”.  As the tempo escalated and the other members joined in, The Backseat Lovers made it clear that this was a performance we would not soon forget.  

For the entirety of their two hour set, Harmon—possessed by the music—lost control of himself while somehow maintaining perfect sovereignty over his instrument. Falling around the stage (even knocking over his piano in the heat of the encore) the singer and guitarist held the audience enraptured, surrendering to the emotion of the music as they screamed along in angst to songs like “Snowbank Blues” and “Growing/Dying”.  The band maintained the dynamic mood shifts of the album in their live performance, however, in quieter moments, when lead guitarist Jonas Swanson took the mic to contrast Harmon’s guttural cries with his angelic vocals. In the last moments of the closing track, “Viciously Lonely”, despite the sorrowful lyrics, neither the band nor the audience could hide their exhilaration as the crowd instantly went crazy after Joshua uttered the title lyric, “maybe it will turn, like an old roll of film/or a bottle of wine that’s been Waiting to Spill”. Although The Backseat Lovers’ most popular anthems clearly remain their pop hits off their first album (with fans screaming the words to these songs louder than the performers themselves), as the band smiled from ear to ear after this last lyric, basking in the fans’ appreciation for their newest body of art, it is abundantly clear that the four young men have created something worth loving.