Concert Review: Capital Cities at House of Blues Cambridge Room




Just from looking at the guys in Capital Cities, the L.A.-based synth pop band that played a sold out show last night at House of Blues Cambridge Room, it wouldn’t be hard to detect that the front men used to be jingle writers. With their shiny black silk jackets, singers Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian looked like a couple of nerds who stumbled into a band. And that’s not far from the truth as their self-titled and self-released 2011 EP turned them into an Internet sensation of sorts. While the live show was ultimately nothing more than a rather primitive synth-dance party, we can’t complain too much if the guys know how to have a good time and throw a good bash.

After opening with a droll cover of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” that sounded like the song might sound if Beck were playing it, the band busted out some silly dance moves and then drifted into “Farrah Fawcett Hair,” a tune that included a mid-song dubstep jam. After a tongue-in-check rendition of “Stayin’ Alive,” the band took it down a notch for “Love Away,” which featured a funky bass solo and some mellow grooves. The group returned to uptempo synth pop beats for “I Sold My Bed But Not My Stereo,” a song Merchant said was “about the power of music.” The single “Safe and Sound” was delivered in all its synth-pop glory and really had the crowd bouncing — so much so that the group played it again as the one-song encore, spinning a Cash Cash remix of the tune and jumping off the stage to dance with members of the audience.

All in all, the hour-long set was plenty of fun, though if the band is to have any staying power, it might want to have at least a few songs in its repertoire that show some depth. After all, the best synth-pop bands from the ‘80s — the era with which the band is clearly infatuated — didn’t just want to make you dance. They made you think, too.

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