• FRIDAY, OCTOBER 07, 2016

    • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

    Manhattan's Irving Plaza was packed on Thursday night when I arrived to see Icelandic rock band Kaleo's sold out show -- packed like a clown car (why am I bringing up clowns during all of the recent clown scarings?). Anyway... although it was packed, everyone in the audience was notably friendly. Even though we had no choice but to stand closely together, we'd all try to respect each other's space, help each other out, and overall it was pretty laid-back. You can tell a lot about a band from their crowd at live shows.

    Kaleo entered the stage and the crowd went wild. Frontman JJ Julius Son (our latest obsession) seemed to have some mic issues in the beginning, but it was quickly resolved halfway through the first song. The band played their latest album A/B almost in its entirety, including hits "Way Down We Go" and "Hot Blood." A highlight of the night was when they played the heart-wrenching "All The Pretty Girls." The entire crowd knew every single word, singing along so loud that I could barely hear the band. A group of guys near me huddled up in a circle and sang it together, keeping their beers close and their fragile emotions even closer.

    After the brief intimate break, the band dove back into their Black Keys-esque rock 'n' roll. There was not a single moment where JJ Julius Son's voice didn't sound flawless and the guitar licks and bass lines were tight. They blasted out soulful songs that packed a punch so hard, that this one drunk girl next to me wouldn't stop frantically dancing next to me. She kind of looked like Dee from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in that one episode where the guys compare her dancing to an inflatable tube man. Then she started screaming at her friends who weren't dancing, "Guys. Guys! You have to feel the music. FEEL the music!"

    For "Automobile," they whipped out their acoustic guitars without losing an ounce of soul. For "Vor i Vaglaskogi," they sang in Icelandic and even though most didn't know what they were singing, it was still hauntingly beautiful. Every song was explosive, especially the ones with massive guitar solos. Kaleo is clearly well-rehearsed and fit for a bigger stage. Today, they're selling out Irving Plaza. Tomorrow? We could see them in a stadium.

    Also get a feel for their live sound in our session with the band at Atlantic Records:

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