To preface this review, I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoy Stop Light Observations’ music. It is modern and sounds fresh, but their tenth sold out show at The Music Farm was neither of those. I have a huge respect for Stop Light Observations (SLO) for developing a fan base outside of Charleston and also for their drive to change the music industry that can be seen with their upcoming The Volume (a number of digital forty-fives to try to bypass the mechanics of an album and to have more creative freedom over their work). With the respect that they had gained by myself and numerous other people, one would think that their live shows would ditto that creativity, but it was just a slap in the face to their fans.
Given my past experience at the venue, it was no surprise to see numerous college-aged and mid-twenty-year-old people getting drunk and enjoying the show, but throughout the evening the crowd slowly turned into one of the worst I had ever seen. There were girls throwing around articles of clothing, numerous people getting thrown out, and some guys even stole a younger girl’s hat and made her cry. When listening to SLO’s music, it does not sound like the type that would pull in such such a crowd. The previous time I saw SLO the crowd was not nearly as crazy as it was this time around. This intense crowd did not match the melancholy sound the band has made a staple. This distinct difference in the crowd and the band could have been in because of the “white reggae” Little Stranger that opened the show.
The “strange” in Little Stranger is an understatement. Being the first time I had ever heard of the duo, it just screamed immaturity at me. Their songs ranged from talking about getting high to borderline verbal abuse to any female in the room. The highlight of their set though was that they threw cheesesteaks out into the crowd (along with a shameless plug for their favorite sandwich shop). Their music was almost all tonally the same and it was extremely difficult to tell each their songs apart, except their cover of “Feel Good Inc.” which was not creative, nor did it deviate from Gorillaz’s original.
The lukewarm reception of Little Stranger led to the crowd being amped for the headliners. SLO’s set showcased the band’s variety of sound, but the songs were organized poorly that they all sounded like one giant song. This would have been confusing for an attendant who was not familiar with their work. They rambled out cliché after cliché through their different songs that felt very awkward and boring. Their rendition of the classic Radiohead song “Creep” felt forced just so they could say “this one goes out to all the weirdos.” But as people were sobering up, and their set was coming to a close, the band’s pacing problem seem to dissipate and they closed their set very well with a strong performance of “Dinosaur Bones” (clearly the audience’s favorite).
As they were walking off the stage, I decided to try to get out before I got trampled by a bunch of drunks. No one was moving with me, instead they were chanting for “one more song” until the band remerged. They played three songs, but only one was work composed by the band. The other two were horrific covers of other popular songs. Clearly because of the young crowd they covered Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” I honestly thought it was horrible. They slowed the song down and brought their classic melancholy vibes to it, but it did not work. They somewhat redeemed themselves though with their cover of The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” even though the lead singer, Blackburn, had to read the lyrics off his phone.
Overall the music was nice, even though numerous songs from the set ran together and became difficult to tell apart. The clear immaturity of the act really showed through because of the numerous clichés, an awkward cover of “Creep,” and an encore that outstayed its welcome after the horrible cover of “Humble.” I truly was expecting more for a band that has sold out ten consecutive show at The Music Farm.