The Shout Out Louds were rather subdued at the Pianos Showroom this past Tuesday, after playing a sold out show at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg just the night before. They played a free show to a long guest list of industry folks and local fans, filling the showroom to capacity.
Their principal singer and guitarist, Adam Olenius, led the band through an hour long set of old songs and some new material drawn from their third studio album, Work (Merge Records). Ironically enough, Shout Out Louds have a talent for inspiring just the opposite response from their audience–one is more likely to watch in quiet reverence as the band performs than shout with excitement or even dance.
While some of their songs are danceable (“Fall Hard” and “Very Loud”) the crowd restricted their movements to subtle head nods and, at times, obligatory applause upon a song’s conclusion. That is not to say that SOL didn’t perform well, it’s just that their solemn demeanor is hauntingly contagious. Many of their songs are full of the angst and neuroticism, characteristic of young adulthood; in “Play the Game” Adam sings:
My friends, they don’t talk to me anymore.
They don’t call me anymore
since I left the shore.
So I drink again.
And I play the game
The lyrics have particular relevance in that they are believable and may be somewhat autobiographical. Adam lacks the bravado and outspokenness of a typical frontman; he rarely leaves his station at the microphone, and he holds onto his guitar with the firmness of a child to a security blanket. Midway through their set he talked briefly of his shyness, giving the audience a taste of his Swedish accent, which is completely absent from his singing voice.
Yet, performing live may have been group therapy for Adam; during the last song of their set, “Walls”, he jumped atop a guitar amp to shout the chorus: “
Whatever they say we´re the ones buildings walls
whatever they say we´re the ones who never say no
to get to know yourself you gotta run away
never trust anyone so run away
run, run, run, run, run.
Following their own advice, the band put down their instruments, thanked the crowd, and made a fast break for the exit.
– Ugonna Igweatu