Photos by: Ryan McDonald
Before the headlining act took the stage, Sam Flax and his band stirred the crowd with a burning blend of synth-pop and guitar rock. With all members looking comfortable in ruby red lipstick, the band made their way through a setlist powered by both familiar and forgotten 1980s melodies. From the punchy riffs of “Everybody Wants,” to the slow-danceable “Almost Young,” the hazy songs from the group’s 2012 album Age Waves, translated perfectly in a live setting, maintaining a consistent level of shimmery pop laced with moments of psychedelia. In the most complimentary sense possible, Sam Flax could have easily played your high school prom night (or maybe your parents’ prom night), with his accessible pop overtones being off-kilter enough to inspire future music makers with the idea that you can make pretty music and still be a genuine weirdo. I’d love to see these guys play under all the shiny streamers at Make-Out Room, just to see this prom night fantasy come to life.
Fresh off of the release of Face the Sun, their second LP as a proper group, The Entrance Band graced The Chapel at the tail end of a month-long tour. Though the band opened for Mazzy Star at The Warfield only a handful of weeks ago, the three-piece outfit returned to the city for a headlining set filled with an endless stream of solos and commanding bass lines. Once he worked through sound issues with his amp, front-man and founder Guy Blakeslee led the show with an onslaught of licks, flourishes and killer dance moves. He ran in circles, pirouetted in both direction and kicked the air mechanically, all while maintaining his furious guitar work. One of his more powerful moments came when he dramatically declared, “When I’m dead and in my grave, no more good times will I crave,” before launching into a good-bad attitude version of “The Crave.”
While Blakeslee acts as the foundation of the band, bassist Paz Lenchatin adds in so much of her own flavor that it’s obvious the two artists orbit each other creatively and feed off of each other’s energy, from the way their different riffs weave in and out of each other to their synchronized hops. Lenchatin owns an understated infectious energy that fulfills the difficult task of balancing, counteracting and emphasizing Blakeslee’s psychedelic stylings with groovy bass lines, particularly on tracks like “Temptation,” “Fine Flow” and “No Needs.”
The Entrance Band made their way through some older tunes, notably “I Want You” and “Back in the City,” one of the many songs drummer Derek W. James switched a drum stick out for a maraca, but they kept the focus and attitude centered on their new record. Driven by the band’s journey out of dark times–the addiction and depression that is reflected clearly in songs like “Medicine”–the show was, like the album, ultimately an exhibition of The Entrance Band harnessing their own strength. And they pull it off to stunning, rock and roll effects.