Eighty One Twenty Three is a music management company that represents a handful of alternative rock artists in the US. This tour enabled three of those artists – Nick Santino, Lydia and The Maine – to play a series of shows in the UK. The event at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham was the final show of the tour and also the first time that I’d seen any of these acts live.
Nick Santino opened the night with a twenty five minute set of acoustic songs. Initially he held the stage well, engaging the crowd with his pitch-perfect vocals and catchy songs. Santino was the singer of the band A Rocket to the Moon and although his solo material is enjoyable, I feel his voice is better suited to a full band sound. As listenable as the songs were, they didn’t last too long in the memory and by the end of the set they’d become background music for the majority of the crowd. Despite this it was an enjoyable set and something that I would be keen to hear more of on record.
Lydia followed with a highly impressive set, offering a good mix of new and old material. Having been a fan of Lydia since their incredible sophomore album Illuminate in 2008, I’d been itching to see the band perform live ever since. The charming quirkiness of Leighton Antelman’s vocals – a quality that makes the studio albums so endearing – is amplified in a live environment. The vulnerability in his voice is matched by his timid and awkward demeanour on stage, where at times it seems as though he’s not sure what to do with his hands, as he twists and turns them around the strap of his guitar. This on-stage persona forges an emotional connection between the songs and the audience; the choreography of Antelman’s body language perfectly matches the mood of the band’s music. The effect is infectious and creates a deep sense of enjoyment throughout the band’s set.
I was disappointed by Lydia’s most recent album Devil, released in 2013. Onstage, however, the material sounds fresh and interesting. Seeing the band play with such enthusiasm and passion for these songs makes me want to relive the album again with new ears, which came as a real surprise.
The Maine rounded off the evening, playing for the best part of an hour and a half. I have never experienced the band, either live or on record, and I was pleasantly surprised by their own blend of catchy, anthemic alternative rock. The set opened with an upbeat song, full of enthusiasm, energy and a very catchy chorus. This was the theme of the set, as waves of well-written, tightly-performed songs flooded the audience. Singer John O’Callaghan held the audience’s attention through excellently executed vocals during the songs, and amusing banter between them. I generally find it difficult to stand through a long set when I’m unfamiliar with the band, but The Maine manage to create such an atmosphere of fun on-stage, that it’s impossible to ignore it off-stage.
As a newcomer to The Maine, I’m unable to comment on the composition of the setlist, but I was impressed with the standard of their songs, which remained high over an hour and a half’s worth of material. I attended this gig mainly to see Lydia perform live, despite being underwhelmed by their most recent record. I left with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the new material and an action to check out more songs by The Maine, who swayed me with their catchy choruses and general sense of fun.