The Bright White, a Chicagoan alt-rock four-piece, played their New York City debut Friday night at The Mercury Lounge. The band plays a traditional style of rock, a mix that does not ask its listeners to jump through any hoops, and has garnered a fan base in Chicago. While there are plenty of people who will enjoy the sort of easy listening rock that The Bright White plays—they like to point that they have been likened to Oasis and The Replacements—critically I am inclined to think that their music and stage show could use an injection of energy.
On stage, the band was a little unbalanced. While front man Matthew Kayser will put emotion into his voice and his movements, the rest of the band seems to lack the same level of enthusiasm and plays in a staid fashion, rooted to their respective patches of the stage. A more passionate performance would go a long way for The Bright White, who had members of the small but pleased audience tapping and nodding along, a good result for what was most likely a show played for first time listeners. However, they might have been swaying and moving their feet if the band themselves had been doing so.
Musically, The Bright White is at its best on songs like “Refugee” and “On the Wall,” when they take more chances and create a more interesting vibe than the standard alt-rockiness of, say, their song “Red Summer Rose” or “We Are More than Animals”. Kayser, who has previously performed out of Nashville, maintains a slight hint of country in his voice, giving the band a clearly American vibe. When Kayser takes a back seat and allows the music to develop into a groove or a sort of mini breakdown, the band is at its best, taking more of those chances I was talking about. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to dirty up their sound a bit, maybe throw in some distortion or more aggressive drumming here and there.
The Bright White is a new band, and they still sort of sound like one. It will be interesting to see how a band like The Bright White develops—will they stick to the simple alt-rock vibe that they currently give off and has garnered them hometown support, or will they take a more interesting and perhaps rewarding route? It’s up to them, but I hope that whatever they do they get a little more excited during shows.
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