Yesterday at NX35: Lydia and PlayRadioPlay! at Rubber Gloves
After prying myself away from Billy Roy's One Man Show on the Square, I grabbed a bite to eat. Then off to Rubber Gloves it was.
And, actually, the atmosphere inside the venue was stifling. Walking from the bar into the performance space, a palpable 20 degree temperature difference was easily detected. Oh, that and the overwhelming smell of body odor.Just breathe through your mouth, I told myself.
The dusty room had thick coils of various cables hanging from the walls, and the crowd reached as far back as the sound board. Amy Winehouse played overhead between sets, and the sound of shattering beer bottles in the next room wasn't all that startling by the end of the night...
In attendance were hoards of girls under 5 feet tall and guys who had no problem trying to reach the same notes as Mindy White, Lydia's backup vocalist (but lead vocalist for this performance).
Despite technically being a part of the NX35, very few of the crowd's teenage hipsters had been to any other NX35-sponsored shows. At one point, when White asked her audience who had taken part in the weekend's festivities, the overwhelming reaction was, "Not so much."
At this show, however, White and guitarist Steven McGraw of Lydia did a last-minute acoustic set after vocalist, Leighton Antelman, was hospitalized with the stomach flu earlier in the evening. Not willing to leave Denton fans (and there are a lot of them) high and dry, Lydia pressed on, but passed its headlining spot on to PlayRadioPlay.
Even though their stab-at-a-set was far from rehearsed, the players worked with what they had--White's impressive voice. With the poppiness of Haley Williams (Paramore) and the tone of the Eisley sisters, White's pipes are versatile and flawless. The sea of young concertgoers knew every word to every song they played, and a moderately sized group of fans peaced out when Lydia was done. Despite several mid-song mistakes, the crowd was captivated and pleased with their improvised performance.
By the time PlayRadioPlay started its set, the crowd was a smidge thinner--but the fans were ten times more active. PlayRadioPlay's lyrics are light and enjoyable against a backdrop of drums and Fruity Loops tracks, and the kids... yeah, they eat it up. PRP had the place jumping, and put on the most energetic set of the night. Reminiscent to, but more poppy than, any Ben Gibbard-affiliated musical venture, PRP is croon-worthy for those under-five-footers I mentioned earlier. It's distracting to watch Daniel Hunter, the mastermind behind PRP, mess with his iMac between every song, but the music that's created as an effect is worth the visual interruption.
All in all, the show was enjoyable and lively, with a great balance of talent and showmanship. There aren't many shows that can redeem a 30-minute search for a parking space. This one definitely did.