This past Saturday marked the fourth time I’ve seen Milo Greene perform live. I caught the last half of their Make Music Pasadena show, which — though short-lived — was more than enough to hook me into the local rockers’ harmonious trance. Needless to say, I picked up their self-titled album soon thereafter, and later saw their in-store FILTER performance at the Penguin Clothing store. I was then finally able to see the folk group play a full set opening for the Walkmen at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre a couple months ago. The point of this short history is that the Milo Greene that took the stage at El Rey Theatre this weekend is far from the band that I’d seen three times previous.
Bahamas did an incredible job setting a foundation for the night, with Toronto native Afie Jurvanen crooning themes of loving, fighting, and making out. Joined by just a lead guitarist and a drummer, plus a two-woman chorus reminiscent to that of a Girls set, Jurvanen exhibited impressive showmanship and immense talent with his hearty vocals, catchy guitar riffs, and interactive wisecracks.
When Milo Greene strummed their first chord from behind closed curtains, the crowd in the sold-out venue erupted in applause. Expecting the same local up-and-coming band I’ve grown to love, I was surprised to encounter a group that has grown to perfect their live set. Maybe it was the fact that the room was packed to the brim, perhaps it was that the band was headlining, or it could have simply been that Milo Greene was home, but this show was far more than just a live performance of the group’s songs.
The LA-based indie-folk fusion whose bright harmonies, dance-inspiring instrumental progressions, and striking lyrics are genuinely fun to listen to proved to be even more enjoyable to watch live. The difference I noticed between this last performance and the others I’ve seen was the undeniable confidence the band has gained. Taking the time to go crazy on guitar solos and extended instrumental breakdowns, the quintet was truly able to exhibit the extent of their skill.
Between switching instruments and lead vocals, the group expressed their happiness to be back in Los Angeles after six weeks on the road. The audience seemed glad to have them. Familiar with the songs and equally enthused to hear “What’s The Matter,” “Don’t You Give Up On Me,” and “Perfectly Aligned,” the crowd’s consistent fervor reconfirmed my belief that there’s not a weak link on the group’s album. Beyond their own releases, Milo Greene performed Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago” — one of my favorite covers by any band — and the group’s vocal strength and the cohesive blend of each members’ contribution radiated during the bridge of the song.
For the encore, Milo Greene brought Bahamas frontman Jurvanen and one of his supporting singers back to join in on the closing songs. After thanking Bahamas and reclaiming the stage, Graham Fink thanked everyone once again and concluded the night with the band’s single “1957.” Exemplifying melancholic euphonies balanced with bright keys, banjo, and reverberating bass, Milo Greene carefully crafted an enjoyable atmosphere pillowed with Marlana Sheetz’s supporting vocals and grounded with Robbie Arnett’s acoustics. This group has officially graduated from supporting act to old pros.
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