Last Monday, a predictably slow weekday night in Williamsburg, the Boston jazz indie outfit People Like You did something that many of the bands I see live either aren’t interested in doing, or capable of doing: controlling the volume of a crowd. They didn’t ask anyone to be quiet, and they weren’t aggressive in any way. The crowd at Sunnyvale just knew to keep the talking to a minimum, mostly in anticipation for the band’s setlist so close to their second release, Verse.
The band starts off with “Josephine Ave,” the eighth track on the new album. Only Sai Boddupalli’s bass is heard, gradually moving the sound, until trumpet player Matt Hull begins to lightly sputter over it while warming up his horn. Chris Lee (guitar/vocals) dances on stage, swaying his hips and tapping his feet, hands in the air moving towards himself. It’s a few moments before anyone realizes he’s actually signaling the crowd to move closer to the stage. The crowd moves in, remaining silent, mesmerized and waiting until the rest of the band joins in.
They end up playing tracks one through six of the of the album in succession, showing off the variety of elements in their music. Their live performance portrays the intricate and juxtaposing rhythms of their music, executed by the duo of drummer Sander Bryce and Boddupalli. At times bright and quick-footed, the pair also helps control the dynamics of the show, bringing about the quieter drawn out moments the band is fond of. The band shows off looser, punkier stylings at moments, showing they have a taste for performing in two different genres. Unfortunately, the vocals are hard to hear a lot of the night, as the rhythm section is constantly moving and creating sound (jazz, ya know), and the higher pitch and volume of a trumpet makes it somewhat more distracting to the ear, essentially drowning out a quiet mic.
An instrumental serves as a very nice palette cleanser before moving on to the sixth track, and showcases Hull’s skills that he’d been using all night to lead both the crowd and the band.
My favorite song of the night was easily the sixth track, “Eulita Terrace,” where the guitar was most prominently showcased and Michi Tassey’s piano and singing were her strongest performances of the night. The band carries this energy into the finale, “Sleeptalk.”
The energy lay subdued under a slow intro, as the keys and guitars have a moment of sonic clarity while the rhythm section kept the song moving towards the moment; Hull joins the rest of the band. The quiet, confident build and chemistry shown was one of the greatest moments of the night as it became the heaviest performance. With Tassey’s beautifully guttural screams piercing the wall of instrumentation that’d kept vocals hidden most of the night, People Like You completed the show at the highest point.
Though only playing their second release, the band is in sync and has the live performance down. They’ve worked on this album for three years, and have been touring even longer, crafting the album while honing their stage presence. This is a band that has a controlled and cohesive live sound, which is not always found in bands as experimental, and are definitely worth checking out live. People Like You is currently on the road down south, before a few stops in the Midwest and a few more in the Northeast. You can pre-order Verse on Bandcamp before it’s July 28th release , and look for the album review on Sweet Static.