Review: Reptar, MRCH
MRCH opened the evening and this was my first time seeing the band live since its inception a few months ago. Mickey Pangburn started the set with a bass effect on her guitar, while she sang with the same caressing nature as Blondie’s Debbie Harry. The second song they played was more electrifying and thrilling than the previous and was very 80’s pop-rock influenced, as it showed traces of Pat Benatar in its songwriting. The intro for the third song was a bit too long for my liking: Mickey played synth chords while Jesse hit the kick with each quarter note before jumping into the song with full band. In my opinion, they should’ve jumped into the song from the get-go and eliminated the introduction.
The transition into the fourth song was seamless into a psychedelic sound on the guitar and keys. The tune resembled Haim in its musical composition, with hints of St. Vincent in the guitar tone and Mickey’s charismatic voice. The venue began to fill in during the fifth song as Mickey channeled her inner Annie Clark and let her voice soar. It’s engaging and grabs your attention and demands, “Hey, listen to me because this is good shit.” The track “Honey Do” is compositionally well-written with diminished chords and Jesse’s drumming adding the spark. Erin Beal’s rapid piano playing at the end of the song was impressive, as I could not stretch my fingers that wide, nor play that fast even if I tried.
As if I had called it earlier with Mickey’s voice, the band ended up covering Blondie’s iconic hit “Heart of Glass,” which was met with perfection! The audience danced and sang along to the cover and enjoyed the sheer perfect reflection of Blondie. After the cover, they played their single “Validation,” which is much better live than the recording. For their last song, MRCH played a tune that was too slow and synth-heavy in the introduction. The entire song is too dark-sounding to end the set; I would have suggested placing this song third or fourth on the set list, or just leaving it as an album song and not a live song. But, as a new band, you only have so much time to fill for your set, so you might as well play everything you have written.
My one other piece of advice would be for Erin, the keys player, to move more. Jesse is a talented drummer and entertaining to watch, and Mickey engages the crowd well. I saw Erin dancing to Reptar’s set, so I know she has moves. I hope she can open up more to the audience and let loose.
Before Reptar took the stage, the Ballroom began to fog up. Reptar stepped onto a dark stage and started with an atmospheric guitar, synth and brass section building up as the cymbals crash. The band had seven members onstage: Graham Ulicny (vocals and guitar), Sean Smith (trumpet), Walter Fancourt (baritone saxophone), William Kennedy (keys), Andrew McFarland (drums), Poof Daunghty (percussion), and Jace Bartet (guitarist who also switches to keys). The lights were very minimal with four strands that moved and flickered behind them. By the time they played their second song, it was apparent that either Captain Squeegee or Playboy Manbaby should have started the show. Nothing against MRCH, they had a great set and I enjoyed them, but they didn’t fit the vibe or energy that Reptar was promoting with its brassy garage rock and high-energy dancing.
The audience danced to the fourth song and the instrumental breakdown in the tune was like a space adventure. Each song just kept getting better than the last, as the fifth song carried the energy throughout, and sounded like a St. Lucia tune (which is all very high energy and ’80’s pop-influenced). The band would wave its hands in the air to encourage audience members to do the same. The crowd jumped and danced to the sixth song as the energy remained stagnant throughout the entire set. Graham came into the audience to dance and sing with them, and Walter joined later. It was a full-blown party in the front row.
There was an awkward transition after the last dance piece where they lost the vibe momentarily.
The seventh song paused while Graham made low, bass-like noises and as soon as the song kicked in, every foot was leaping into a dance. They played “Amanda,” which is my favorite (I may be biased), however they sped up the tune and added a post-ska element to the song.
These guys should have played a Friday or Saturday night; the energy of a Monday night started hot and then began to fizzle near the end. The band’s music resembles The Talking Heads and Graham’s vocals resembles Foxy Shazam’s Eric Nally and Rush’s Geddy Lee. They also imposed a “wall of sound” to their music where everything hits you all at once.
The band is incredibly solid, and never missed a beat or cue. Whenever band members weren’t playing, they were still keeping the energy alive by moving and swaying to the beat. At times, Reptar reminded me of Modest Mouse with its intensity and vocal inflections. My only “complaint” would be that the keys were overwhelming throughout the whole set. All in all, it was a Monday night party I wasn’t expecting to jump into.
The article Review: Reptar, MRCH appeared first on The Spec.