Knoxville natives Royal Bangs and COOLRUNNINGS performed at Pilot Light, a small bar located in the Old City, this past Saturday at 10 p.m. The small venue, although not the greatest place in the world, created a perfect backdrop for the two bands, and the $5 fee at the door provided an experience and ticket to a band worth seeing live.
Royal Bangs put on a great show and it was evident that the audience was enjoying the music provided by their fellow Knoxvillians. The upbeat music filled the small venue and created high energy in the crowd. The lead singer and instrumentalist, Ryan Schaefer, graced the crowd with his deep voice while the other two band members, drummer Chris Rusk and guitarist Sam Stratton, were in sync.
Influenced by Passion Pit, Royal Bangs have a sound that is unique to other bands in the indie rock genre; their technique shown through notes and electronics gives them an consistently unexpected edge. Performing songs from their newest album, "Flux Outside," released in 2011, Royal Bangs gave a solid performance.
The show started off with a short set by COOLRUNNINGS. Brandon Biondo, a multi-instrumental member of the band, stood on stage by his computer, synthesizer and keyboard and played music that could be described to have multiple musical qualities. Songs would initially start off with an '80s vibe, then dubstep, then punk. The music was disorganized and unoriginal; bands like Chromeo and LCD Soundsystem do it much better.
Emily Lynn Ashton, junior in psychology, said that although she appreciated both the bands being from Knoxville, COOLRUNNINGS was not exactly what she expected.
"He played music that is definitely something I'm not used to," Ashton said. "It was really echoic and really hard to understand him, but overall it was a really cool vibe and sound."
COOLRUNNINGS did not give the best performance, considering their music was a little flat and too unoriginal to really be appreciated, but the music did get the crowd hyped for what was coming.
Pilot Light has been frequented by bands like The Black Keys and The Gossip. As a venue with some credibility, someone who has never been there before would probably expect a different setting from how it actually is; the room is small and cramped, there are only limited places to sit and the floors are sticky from spilled beer.
"It's my first time really doing something like this so I don't know what to expect," said Sarah Watson, sophomore in journalism and electronic media. "I would have wanted something bigger (and) airier because it's really hot in here, but it is fun, too."
The venue's stage was small and the bands both seemed to be fixated in one place, barely moving around on stage and not able to really interact with the crowd. Pilot Light is open every night, not only when live performances are scheduled, and is more bar-like than most other concert venues, but ultimately did the job and both bands sounded good enough for a show.
The highlight of the night is usually the main band, and this concert was no different. Although COOLRUNNINGS had a fun '80s style as an appetizer, the main course and dessert was the music and performance provided by Royal Bangs; their music was genuine and original and the vibrations went through the walls of the venue.