For their fifth anniversary, the San Diego branch of Chicago-based music venue House of Blues celebrated with an afternoon, all-ages show featuring Freelance Whales, Earl Greyhound, Shout Out Louds, and Ok Go. The “all-ages” aspect was evident in the awkward teenage poses of kids in the top balcony — and by what looked like an entire middle-school class, complete with chaperones, taking up the whole right corner.
House of Blues was apparently catering to these youngsters with their schedule, enforcing a self-imposed curfew on the length of the opening bands’ sets. HOB is notoriously prompt on the start times of their shows (sort of the anti-Casbah of San Diego venues), but they took it a step further this time by putting Freelance Whales on an hour before schedule, forcing them to play while most of the crowd was still outside waiting to get in.
I still managed to catch Shout Out Louds, however, who definitely made it worth the midday trip downtown. The Swedish band came out looking dapper, with three out of the four guys bearded and all wearing suits with matching blue button-down shirts (but not the lone female Bebban Stenborg, stationed behind the keys looking cute in emo dark eye makeup). They used their short set to the fullest, managing to plow through a good portion of their new album, Work. In short order, lead singer Adam Olenius had torn his blazer off during “Play the Game” in order to showcase some serious cowbell skills.
I really dug the energetic dance-pop of Work front to back, but live versions of songs like “Walls” and “Impossible” were improved with extended choruses and pounding build-ups. Unfortunately, when they tossed out amiable salutes to the audience and said they only had one more for us, they really meant it, because HoB turned on the house music immediately. I know we’re a long way from Stockholm, but hopefully they’ll swing through SD as proper headliners sometime soon.