Photos by Lucy Florence. For more shows, check out our photo section
The Morning Benders show at Webster Hall last week was the final U.S. night of the mother of all tours, conducted at a pace that has been steadily increasing with the band's recent popularity. The tour is continuing on the festival circuit in Australia, and while The Morning Benders' oceanic shoegaze tunes will fit in more with the scene in the sweltering antipodes, the New York crowd sent them off on a freezing night with a packed house.
The opening acts, Cults and Twin Sister, began the show with idyllic tunes from both of their female vocalists, Madeline Follin and Andrea Estella, respectively. Estella popped up for a cameo later in the show during The Morning Benders' cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams", her blissfully chirpy vocals forming a nice duet with Benders frontman Chris Chu.
The show focused mainly on the California based band's sophomore album, Big Echo, a melted fog of Grizzly Bear and Phil Spector-like sounds, a Berkeley meets Brooklyn mishmash. The beachy set obviously lulled the crowd into a chilled-out reverie, because they had to be urged to "dance!" twice before amping up into a cheerfully undulating scene.
Vocalist Chris Chu really has the frontman thing down; there's something about the way he interacts with the microphone that is just plain sexy. The eager girls in the front row obviously agreed; as evidenced by the moment in the final number when Chu came down to the front, grabbing hands that bloomed in eager waves as he walked the length of the stage. Chu's bravado was followed by the most poignant moment of the night, when he quietly looped the recognizable "dah dah dah" of "Excuses" into an eerie melody that led to a climax of discordant overtones.
The Morning Benders final words were to promise numbers from a new album the next time they play at Webster Hall, and their encore foreshadowed things to come with a fresh song, "Virgin".