Whether it be the unnaturally warm February weather or the surprisingly (or should I say unsurprisingly) sold out show for a relatively new and developing band, everyone in the jam-packed Mercy Lounge sensed that something big was happening. Chatter was made up of conversation on who is who in the Nashville music scene and the next show people would be attending. Not lost in the conversations was an overwhelming sense of confidence that Kaleo was about to blow up, summed up by a Kentucky native to the right of me who said it was worth the drive and she didn’t think she would see the quartet in such a small, intimate venue ever again. With such a buzz preceding them, the band definitely delivered. Starting with “No Good,” a song picked up for the new HBO original series, Vinyl, the crowd was immediately moving to the blues/rock riffs and grungy vocals.
The mood lightened, and casual conversation between band and audience started when the band was playing “Vor í Vaglaskógi,” a song that approximately 6 or 7 audience members understood based on lead singer, Jökull Júlíusson’s count. He exchanged some seemingly friendly commentary with the few Icelandic audience members that the rest of the crowd looked amused to hear though they couldn’t understand a word. Transitioning into a more emotional part of the set, Kaleo brought out radio hit “All The Pretty Girls,” and Júlíusson’s expression showed pure bliss at the echo of his every word which led to a chuckle as a man yelled “Give me a bed!”
The four exited for a split-second before re-emerging to play a crowd favorite “Way Down We Go,” as many of us probably pictured them “way down” in a volcano such as the Þríhnúkagígur Volcano in Iceland where they filmed the music video. It was clear the audience wanted more as soon as it ended, as some stood around as if their would be more music, while others rushed to merch to meet them or quickly snagged a setlist off the stage.
Local duo, Firekid, seemed to be a town favorite and listeners weren’t afraid to show their vast knowledge of Dillon Hodges’ music as he opened the show Thursday night. The most amusing of his songs was “Americana Dream,” which he admitted offends some locals, but that doesn’t stop the Alabama native from speaking the truth. He ended the set with “Lay By Me,” a song that took a few tries to get perfect as he asked his drummer, Josh, to start over, but nonetheless resulted in a great sing-a-long and spirit lifter for Kaleo.