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Live music review: The Bright Light Social Hour and The Tontons Valentine show

The Bright Light Social Hour with The Tontons at Stubb's BBQ
The Bright Light Social Hour with The Tontons at Stubb's BBQ
Greg Ackerman

The Bright Light Social Hour w/ The Tontons at Stubb's BBQ


Austin music fans took advantage of unseasonably warm weather Friday to enjoy a special Valentine's Day double bill at Stubb's BBQ with The Bright Light Social Hour and their guests, The Tontons. Despite the fact that the Live Music Capital's holiday concert schedule was packed with great options for ticket buyers, the two Texas bands nearly sold-out the 2600 person capacity venue. Indeed, by 9 p.m. when Houston indie-rock outfit, The Tontons hit the stage, Stubb's was packed with fans. They stayed until TBLSH's encore which concluded with bassist, Jack O'Brien and guitarist, Curtis Roush crowd surfing with a heart-shaped cake they brought along to share. The cake was instantly decimated by a bouncing frenzy of people as the band played a commendable cover of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." It was a perfect way to end a near-perfect show.

The Tontons opening set featured several songs from their forth coming release, "Make Out King and Other Stories of Love." The Fun Fun Fun Fest veterans feature sultry-voiced singer, Asli Omar in front of a three-piece rock trio comprised of bassist Tom Nguyen and brothers Adam and Justin Martinez on guitar and drums. It is hard to miss Omar with her sunburst afro and dusky good looks standing at the center of the stage. But it is her sexy, plaintive vocals that really grab your attention. Although The Tontons are labeled indie rock, the new album has several tracks that anyone would be hard-pressed to classify in a single genre. Their sound is vaguely American/Brit indie rock mixed with emotionally charged yet languorous vocals. The effect is captivating.

An advance copy of the new record has been playing non-stop at our office for over a week. You can stream a few of the new tunes on Soundcloud before the album officially drops on February 18.

The Tontons were not the only ones featuring new material during this show. Headliners, The Bright Light Social Hour have been at work on a new record which O'Brien promised, "... is almost done." Their set featured quite a few of the new tunes in addition to the debut album hits, "Shanty," "Back and Forth" and "Detroit." Frankly, we were pleasantly surprised at the appearance of so many new tracks in the setlist. TBLSH have been rightfully trading on the success of their eponymous, 2010 debut album since it was released. That album and subsequent shows garnered the band six Austin Music Awards in 2011. "Shanty" enjoyed heavy local radio play while the band has toured non-stop, making new fans across the country while their stature continued to grow at home in Texas.

The set led off with four new songs. The style of the new music was similar to TBLSH's trademark indie-rock, party-blues sound but less frenetic and more soulful. The band is crafting songs that highlight their musical talent in a pleasing, contemplative way. After trying out the new material on the crowd, TBLSH injected energy into the performance by rolling out radio hit, "Shanty" and the anthemic, "Back and Forth" before delving back into more new material with "Sea of Edge", "Aperture" and "Ouroboros."

The show ended with another older tune, "Garden of the Gods." The Bright Light Social Hour left the stage to thunderous applause reemerging minutes later to play a three song encore that included crowd-pleaser, "Detroit" and a soulful "Young Man Blues" that segued into "Let's Get It On." Roush displayed rather impressive vocals during the song that complimented the incredible work he was doing on guitar. A happily buzzing crowd meandered out of the vneue exits moments later.

Towards the end of the set, we managed to capture a few seconds of Instagram video when Asli Omar joined TBLSH on stage during the performance.

The Bright Light Social Hour demonstrated why the band has filled Stubb's BBQ the last two times they have played the venue. They are a great live band. The constant touring seems to be paying off as the group looked just as comfortable on the big Stubb's stage as they do in a small club. From the sound of the new music they played Friday more good things are on the horizon for this beloved Austin act. They continue on tour in Corpus Christi on February 21 for 11 more dates culminating in two nights at Sasquatch Festival in Washington state.

The Bright Light Social Hour Stubb's BBQ Valentine's Day setlist:

Sweet Madelene
Ghost Dance
Back and Forth
Sea of the Edge
Infinite Cities
Garden of the Gods
Young Man Blues/Let's Get It On

Special thanks to Jack O'Brien and C3 Presents.

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