The Morning Benders Impress At First Headlining Troubadour Show

Morning BendersThe Morning Benders looked and sounded like a seasoned veteran band Thursday at the Troubadour in LA, despite not looking a day over 16. I’m actually not sure how old they are (18?), and for the most part, it couldn’t have mattered less. Lead singer and guitarist Chris Chu, though still adjusting to the spotlight, delivered the band’s critically acclaimed indie tracks almost flawlessly to the packed, LA venue.

“You guys came to see us?” he asked, after mentioning that the San Francisco band had played the venue as an opener a few times before. Yes, we came to see The Morning Benders, especially after the release of their incredible Rough Trade debut, Big Echo. They proved themselves instantly, grabbing everyone’s attention with “Stitches,” as the line “you don’t know me by name” built into a sea of guitar distortion and pounding drums.

After that, they seemed to take a deep breath and start again, going right into “Promises” and never looking back. The songs sounded as solid as they do on the record, with the harmonies standing out as being especially on point. Perhaps The Morning Benders borrowed more from producer Chris Taylor than just a stylistic influence, as their extremely tight set was somewhat similar to Grizzly Bear’s, showing tons of promise for the young band’s future in the indie landscape (plus, they’ve already got that P4K Best New Music stamp nailed down).

The only bump in the night was the anti-climactic closing performance of their stand-out track and single, “Excuses.” Chu put down the guitar in favor of taking on a more dominant stage presence, but the layered ballad suffered for it without the rhythm guitar through-out (the song was empty enough for some dude in the back to chime in during the “du-dums”). Picking up the guitar three quarters of the way through, Chu piled on the vocal loops as he strummed a bit too aggressively, taking away some of the songs charm in the process. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the near perfect performance in that “wall of sound” Yours Truly video, but given how great the rest of the set was, “Excuses” disappointed slightly. I dunno, you tell me.

Before coming out for an encore of Neil Young’s “Bad Fog of Loneliness,” Chu told the crowd, “that’s all of our songs, so we’ll see you next time.” The closing statement, along with the bumpy “Excuses” performance, was a reminder of how young the band’s career really is. But everything up until then, as well as another listen to Big Echo this afternoon, makes me excited to indeed see them next time. When they’re 17 (19?).

Elizabeth Stolfi |

“Promises” live @ the Troubadour