Regular Indy visitors Blind Pilot put on another great show Thursday night at Deluxe at Old National Centre.
In spite of some occasional pops in the speakers in the first few songs (probably not the band's fault), Israel Nebeker and crew soldiered on, the joy of playing their indie-folk rock evident whenever the crowd offered cheers and applause. A lot of great bands come through Indianapolis now, and few, if any, obviously enjoy themselves and smile as much as the Blind Pilot crew - a beautiful thing.
The soft "White Apple" hushed the crowd before "Two Towns from Me" gave them reason to celebrate and the band a chance to show their virtuosity, with rousing singalong choruses and a melodic trumpet line.
"Half Moon" offered more participatory moments after the stand-up bassist encouraged the crowd to sing along with his excellent voice. A bit later, he even invited a little girl onstage (full disclosure: my friend's daughter) to play percussion on the bass during "We Are the Tide."
Blind Pilot seems to love to perform as much as they love their audience. Between songs, lead singer Nebeker fondly looked back to their most recent visit to Indy, mentioning the fact that it was in a church (Earth House), then honoring the current venue, Deluxe, saying "Isn't this the most beautiful basement you've ever seen?"
If you missed Blind Pilot this time, last time, or the other times they've been in town, catch them the next time around - you won't be disappointed. With their memorable, beautiful sound and touring ethic, odds are good these guys will continue to get bigger.
Based on this show, though, the same can't be said about openers River City Extension. The New Jersey six piece sounded like novices compared to the main act. Whether it was because it was their first time in Indy, or because they were performing in the shadow of leader Joe Michelini's favorite songwriter, Richard Edwards of Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, or for different reasons altogether (some of their lyrics signify so), River City Extension generally lacked confidence. One member stood shyly in the shadow of a column for much of their set. And at one point between songs, Michelini whined about how touring is "emotionally jarring," so he and the other band members each wrote "tour resolutions" which they then, one by one, explained to the audience.
The band's songs didn't offer anything particularly unique; fans of bands like The Head and the Heart might take heed but shouldn't expect as tight of a performance. This wasn't entirely the band's fault, as most of the audio mix was muddy, lead vocals were too loud, and accessory instruments like shakers were often lost in the mix.
Lovers of hipsters might want to check them out, though: According to one intro by the bearded Michelini, one of their songs is about being in Brooklyn.