Last Wednesday, Los Angeles indie rock group Roah Summit and Stanford indie rock quintet Siberian Front performed at Kairos, both delivering engrossing performances. There were two stages, one on either side of the darkened room, sparsely lit with strings of ambient, multi-colored lights. Hushed anticipation reigned just before the show.
To start off the night, Siberian Front vocalist Thomas Reidy ‘17 stepped onstage with palpable excitement and announced to the crowd, “Alright, let’s get this party started.” Immediately, lead guitarist Gio Jacuzzi ‘16 and rhythm guitarist Walter Torres ‘15 opened with an upbeat, rollicking melody to which the audience started dancing. Damian Mcglothlin ‘15 soon joined in with his rhythmic bass as Shamik Mascharak ‘15 set the beat with pelting drums that roared alongside Reidy’s vocals.
From the start, Siberian Front were, musically and physically, in constant motion. Their visceral sound and energetic performance evoked the enthusiasm of early Arctic Monkeys. During instrumental breaks, which featured dual guitars creating a gritty wall of sound, Reidy was not standing still. Rather, he was dancing to the music, rushing about the stage and interacting with the audience.
The song “Skinny Jeans” encapsulated their performance style: they opened with solo distortion guitar, courtesy of Jacuzzi, before leading into Reidy’s fast-paced melody. During the song, Reidy knelt down fervently before two of the audience members, sang to them imploringly, hit the high note and fell to the ground as if stunned. Not a second later, he was up on his feet again, moving.
Siberian Front sang original songs off their debut self-titled EP, such as “Seattle,” in which Reidy sang about his inner demons — “The voice that’s in my head won’t go away.” They sang thrilling covers of songs by bands that have influenced their sound — such as Young the Giant’s “Cough Syrup,” one of the smoothest songs of their set, and The Strokes “Last Night,” which showcased their ability to have fun onstage. Yet no matter what they sang, whether original song or cover, Siberian Front commanded the room. Before the set finished, Reidy gave a shoutout to the next act Roah Summit, exclaiming, “They f***ing rock.”
While equally powerful, Roah Summit’s smooth, transcendent performance, in light of Siberian Front’s raw energy, was a striking surprise. Though the two bands possessed similarities — among them, layered guitars and a penchant for reverb — they each boasted a distinct musical and performance style. Where Siberian Front played an animated show, Roah Summit delivered a more mellow but no less riveting performance. From the minute bars of fluorescent light illuminated the pitch-dark stage, to the final, ethereal reprise of “Secrets,” an emotionally stirring song from their debut EP “Deep Bloom,” Roah Summit captivated the audience.
Overall, Roah Summit’s sound was full and immersive, tending more toward atmospheric than Siberian Front’s visceral rock n’ roll. Nevertheless, the band still sported striking rhythms, especially evident on the song from their EP “Mother American,” in which Jake Berry’s crooning voice rang out (“Oh-oh-oh”) over waves of Kevin Clarke’s synth and Drew Chaffee’s guitar, all the while supported by Jay Odebunmi’s intricate percussion, which bore similarity to the complex beats of bands such as The National and Spoon.
What made Roah Summit’s performance so breathtaking, causing the crowd to stand transfixed before the white light of the stage, was apparent in their performance of the song “Secrets.” To begin, Berry sang in a low voice, brushing aside his long brown hair, alongside steady drums and guitar. All sound dropped out save Berry’s vocals and a few well-placed piano chords — then, as drums and guitar reentered, Berry’s voice rose in one of his most dynamic and emotional performances of the night. “Be careful who you put yourself above,” he intoned as the guitar echoed behind him in a stirring union. Through the show, Clarke’s synth and Chaffee’s guitar exhibited shoegaze influences combined with the folky timbre of Berry’s vocals. Such juxtaposition called to mind musical influences such as The War on Drugs.
The music unfolded with eloquent ease, as Berry sang, “I don’t care about your secrets,” making way for an interlude of electronic sounds. Then, the guitars crashed back in like ocean waves in slow-motion and Odebunmi’s elaborate rhythms returned full-force. At this point the depth of Roah Summit’s evocative and layered aesthetic became apparent. Each distinct element was an integral piece in their orchestra of sound, executed with sleek precision.
Though the two bands’ performances were distinct, both Siberian Front and Roah Summit delivered transcendent sets to a crowd of music-loving Stanford students that night. Whether the crowd was dancing or swaying in place, this was a show the audience could get lost in, or, to quote Jake Berry in the song “Secrets,” it was a musical realm with “no beginning or finish.”
Contact Tyler Dunston at tdunston ‘at’ stanford.edu