White Arrows hit the bull’s-eye at the Barn

Laura Nguyen/HIGHLANDER
Laura Nguyen/HIGHLANDER

White Arrows is no stranger to touring and performing in front of live audiences. Ever since their formation in 2011, the LA-based band has played all over the United States and the world, ranging from Australia and Amsterdam to massive music festivals such as Coachella. Now, with their brand new album finished, White Arrows is about to embark on “El Tour Blanco,” an extensive tour featuring the likes of the Neighbourhood, Travis Scott and Danny Brown. Before doing so, the psychedelic rock band graced UCR’s very own Barn stage Wednesday night, creating a memorable night filled with upbeat dance songs, impromptu jam sessions and great vibes.

As one of the biggest acts on the Barn’s spring lineup, I expected the intimate venue to be filled to capacity on Wednesday. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. When I walked through the Barn’s front doors, only a few people stood in front of the stage, with a small number of people sitting outside enjoying their food. Even as the opening act, Say Say, took the stage to play, the crowd was still few in number — but the band started the night off on a high note, bringing high level synth-pop to the Barn stage.

At the beginning of their performance, the handful of people in attendance were shot with a blast of energy as soon as the performance started. Lead singer Adam Reiter grabbed ahold of the audience’s attention from the moment he opened his mouth, letting out powerful vocals filled with emotion and passion. The band’s use of analog synth and dance-friendly drum patterns were infectious, spreading through the crowd and the venue like fire. By the time the band reached its final song, “Like An Animal,” more people migrated toward the stage, with every head in the crowd bobbing along to the beat. Not a single person was still, as even the people sitting down tapped their feet along to the melody.

To most bands, playing for such a small crowd would pose a problem, but White Arrows saw the intimate audience and venue in a different perspective.When talking to lead singer and frontman Mickey Church, he shared that after continuously touring, the size of the audience doesn’t have an effect on how well a show turns out. “I like people to be close,” he said. “You feed off people’s energy. It doesn’t matter the size of the venue, just the energy.” Even though the crowd was small, the fresh-faced college kids in attendance were gleaming with excitement and ready for an amazing experience — and once White Arrows took the stage, that’s exactly what they got.

By the time it was White Arrows’ turn to perform, everyone gathered around the stage, filled to the brim with excitement. From the moment they started playing, the crowd knew they were in for a great show and White Arrows delivered. The band seemed as ready as they’d ever been, cruising through songs off of their first album, “Dry Land Is Not A Myth,” to get the crowd warmed up. Once they reached the fan favorite “Coming or Go,” the audience was fully connected to the show and responded to the music, dancing and moving around like it was the only thing they could do. As a result of the crowd’s dancing, the rest of the band members began to loosen up as well, moving around the stage and playing with more passion.

Not only did White Arrows feed off of the crowd, but also off of each other. Before becoming a band, the members of the group were close friends who wanted to play music together, and after an album and multiple tours, the group seemed closer than ever. It felt as if it wasn’t a concert, but rather a group of friends just jamming together. At one point during one of their songs, “Church,” drummer Henry Church and bassist Steven Vernet entered an all-out jam session, unleashing a fury of chords and drum solos onto the crowd, head-banging and rocking out with high energy on the stage. As soon as the song seemed like it was over, the trio picked right up again, increasing the volume and intensity. The amps were on overload, but the audience bobbed in amazement of the band’s playing power.

White Arrows didn’t leave before treating the audience to two never-before-heard songs off their new LP, which will be released in the fall. The first song matched the new sound featured on the album, described as “darker and more matured, with more guitar-driven songs.” Right off the bat, the audience was hit with a compelling and catchy lead guitar riff much different from their previous albums, which feature more synth-heavy production. Backed by hard-hitting drums, the track held the same groove and rhythm as many of the band’s previous songs, making it easy for the audience to move around. By the time the performance ended, all fans in the audience were chanting “encore” at the top of their lungs, and the band made a point to let everyone know about their upcoming tour dates.

White Arrows left their imprint on the Barn, playing one of this year’s best shows. The band left fans in attendance yearning for more music, and despite its small turnout, the Barn was filled with as many good vibes and energy as any other show at packed capacity — possibly even more. Fans got more than their money’s worth from the show, and all those that weren’t fans before definitely left the show newfound fans of the LA psych-rock band.

 

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