The Upshot: At the Fonda Theater, this rising electro-pop band’s sense of sincerity proved a refreshing anecdote for those turned off by a world full of fake news and staged reality TV.
BY MICHAEL BERICK
First, the several Michael Jackson songs played in the theater’s pre-show house music caused a little chuckle. Then, the classic clip of Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl was used to usher the band on stage, which I thought was surely meant to be ironic. After listening to LANY perform a few songs, however, I realized that the band wasn’t being ironic at all, but quite the opposite. Their music, as well as their performance, held a genuine sense of sincerity that was something that their ardent young fans (most who seemed to be between 15-25) really responded to at the sold-out Fonda Theater.
The trio, consisting of drummer Jake Goss, keyboardist/guitarist Les Priest and singer Paul Klein, enthusiastically served up their catchy electro-pop tunes built around lively beats and Klein’s lightly soulful vocals, but it was their lyrics that stood out as another key appeal to the fans. Full of romantic young love, the lyrics had an everyday, conversational quality elevated with just the right amount of poeticism. As my 14-year-old LANY-loving daughter described it, “their lyrics are simple but purposeful.”
Klein displayed a nice way of using a few touchstone words to sketch a scene. “Thrift store fashion/Imperfect tattoos/Taking showers/Minus shampoo” opens “Pink Skies,” before he proclaims “You are my favorite everything/Been telling girls that since I was 16.” Michael Jackson make a cameo – “Drive to the beach, kiss me nice and slow/Michael Jackson so loud on my radio” – in the soothing love ode, “Made in Hollywood.” In “Where The Hell Are My Friends,” Klein bemoans that he’s “home alone, not again/Friday, wine, and the internet/The only love I seem to get” before launching into the singalong refrain: “Am I starting to hate California/Why am I in LA/40 million in California/No one cares if I stay.” Klein, who comes off like some dude you were friendly with in high school, can even pull off a line like “my heart hurts so good/I love you, baby, so bad, so bad” in their highly danceable semi-hit “ILYSB.”
Klein’s “heart on his sleeve” emotions figured in the night’s most memorable moment, which didn’t come in a song, but between songs. After revealing about how he used to live nearby just a couple years earlier (and couldn’t even get hired for a menial job), he shared his amazement at how far they have come in the past two years and urged the audience not to give up on their dreams because “we didn’t give up.” Klein became so overcome with emotions that he broke down in tears, causing the crowd to cheer on their support. The fans also didn’t seem to mind that LANY’s set only lasted around 70 minutes because the band, who has only released a couple EPs and no full-length CDs, played nearly every one of their songs.
LANY didn’t do anything fancy; they aren’t reinventing the wheel; however, their smoothly melodic synth-y pop tunes and heartfelt lyrics are both fun and real, which makes them quite refreshing in today’s world. They certainly won over the cynic in me.
Also impressive was the opening act, the up-and-coming local band Transviolet. Fronted by Sarah McTaggart, an energetic singer whose stage presence suggested an art school gymnast, the band added more of a rock crunch to their electronic beats and loops. With ear candy numbers like “New Bohemia” and “Girls Your Age,” it is easy to imagine this band moving up from opening act status soon.