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An evening with Colony House

| Monday, October 3, 2016

ColonyHouse_WEBLAUREN WELDON | The Observer

Entering Legends on Friday night with this week’s SceneCast episode on my mind, Colony House’s merch table caught my eye. Their humble but interesting collection included a crew sweatshirt reading “Colony House is pretty good” and a T-shirt featuring a wildcat that could have passed for high-school spirit wear.

The band itself had a similar impression. A quick barrage of upbeat tracks opened the show before frontman Caleb Stevenson interrupted to welcome the thin but energetic crowd, humbly assuring us, “If you don’t know who we are, you’re not in the minority.” The vocalist/guitarist was accompanied onstage by his brother Will Franklin Chapman on the drums, Scott Mills on guitar and Parke Cottrell on bass and keyboard.

During a brief pause, the front row of audience members engaged in a dialogue, asking questions like, “How is touring with the Mowgli’s?” Caleb responded positively, joking, “This is an evening with Colony House, ask us anything.” It only took one song request for him to regret that invitation.

The indie rock band from Franklin, Tennessee, brought an excellent organic sound to the beginning portion of the show, contrasting the heavily produced style of their recorded tracks. That’s not to say they spared the effects — all guitarists kept their feet busy tapping on pedals.

The night’s highlight came when Caleb picked up his acoustic guitar with the disclaimer, “My brother convinced me to make a song out of this. If you hate it, blame him.” The sentimental lull of his acoustic solo ended with an emotional punch when the rest of the band returned to the stage and gathered around the single microphone.

Fast tempo and full instrumentals resumed, culminating in top hit “Silhouettes.” A lights-out accompanied the emphatic line “‘til the lights come on” to dramatic effect.

The night wrapped up with synthy singles from their upcoming album. Heavy effects made for danceable hits, but overshadow the thoughtful songwriting and strong instrumentation the band had proven themselves capable of. Caleb’s flawless vocals don’t call for distortion. One of their most recent singles “You Know It” has all the makings of an alt-pop hit, but is shallow and repetitive, both instrumentally and lyrically.

The upcoming album “Only the Lonely” has its heart in the right place. Inspired by their experience on tour, it tackles “the paradox of being around people all the time but also feeling alone.” Caleb explained that the title comes from a song by one of their favorite artists, Roy Orbison.

“Only the Lonely” will be Colony House’s first album by RCA records, a prominent label known for producing pop superstars. Colony House seems to be at a crossroads between authentic indie rock and mainstream alt-pop, common among Legends acts. The combination made for a successful show for both sentimental pondering and energetic dancing, but raises the question of what’s to come from the young band. In any case, Colony House was in fact pretty good.

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