BØRNS was Good, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers were Great
Adam Ramos | Sunday, April 3, 2016
Garret Borns makes good pop music. I know it, Tay knows it and over 100 million Spotify users will attest to it. BØRNS, the moniker used by the Michigan native to propagate his good pop music, brought his talent and band to Legends last Thursday night and played his good pop songs for everyone at Notre Dame to hear.
Listening to BØRNS’ good pop songs live was a good experience; I enjoy him when played from my computer, and the experience of hearing him in person was similarly enjoyable. And while “satisfying” may be the best adjective I can use in describing BØRNS’ predictable set, the opening act, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, seriously impressed.
As the trickle of Notre Dame students began packing into the familiarly sweaty night club, a pack of bohemian-clad Davy Crockett look-alikes and toga-donning vagrants approached the stage with incalculable aplomb. Before I could figure out what exactly these vagabonds were up to, I was hit by a wave of beautiful melodies. With palpable energy, the seven-piece Americana outfit got even the most conservative of Domers channeling their inner deadhead, as their peculiarly provoking blend of folk, funk and rock flooded the house.
Each member of Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers seemed blind to the audience, grooving and moving with the music like an excited four-year old at a wedding reception. The group’s combined synergy and talent was remarkable, and when coupled with the frenetic stage antics, I couldn’t help but wish for more by the end of the short set.
Eccentricities aside, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers have found a collaboration that works, and their 2015 debut album, “Terra Incognita,” is worth a listen. Led by the sultry vocals of front man Hertler, the rest of the Rainbow Seekers provide a fresh take on indie pop with their eclectic arrangements and grassroots approach.
Next up was the man everyone was waiting for — the very same man that, up until Thursday, my roommate thought was a female because of his unnatural signature falsetto. Opening with his early hit, “Seeing Stars,” BØRNS went on to perform his gauntlet of tracks, each maintaining an acceptable amount of energy. Making a little time for colorfully awkward dance moves and some fan hand touches, BØRNS performed a pretty standard show. After playing about eight of his most popular songs off of his debut album, “Dopamine,” and one cover, BØRNS concluded his set with his hit, “Electric Love,” then quietly left the stage. Everyone exited the club, satisfied, I guess.
From a strictly musical standpoint, BØRNS impressed, and anyone new to his shimmering take on pop music was in for a treat Thursday night. Accessible but keenly fresh, the falsetto-rich “Dopamine” — an appropriate name for the intensely fun album — was a highlight in 2015. Swinging melodies and infectious choruses are the hallmarks of BØRNS’ work, and tracks like “Past Lives” and “The Emotion” are testaments to this. While it may not be the most provoking of music, “Dopamine” isn’t a bore by any means.
I mentioned how BØRNS played a cover during his set; the song he chose was Arcade Fire’s seminal “Rebellion (Lies),” a personal favorite. And while I’ll admit to joining in as the chorus of Notre Dame students chimed “lies, lies,” accompanied by BØRNS’ backing vocals, something was missing. The cover was fun, but it didn’t extend too far past that, failing to capture even a glimpse of the poignant emotion and power of the track. But maybe that was just the theme for the set.
I guess it’s better than Hip-Hop Night.