2015 has been a somewhat breakthrough year for Californian pop-rock band Echosmith, thanks to the popularity of their track Cool Kids, which has amassed over 150 million streams on Spotify. After releasing their debut album Talking Dreams and conquering the States last year, the group have embarked on a quest for global domination by bringing their own blend of catchy and positive-message affirming music to Europe. Last Saturday I was granted the privilege to review their performance at Manchester Club Academy and was also able to interview them before the show.
Whilst I stood waiting for Echosmith to appear on stage in a sold out venue, I could feel the excitement resonate around the room. 500 enthusiastic fans were anxious to see how this ‘new’ band would fare performing to a UK crowd, and their anxiety proved mostly unfounded. Opening the show with Let’s Love, the group were off to a strong start as Sydney’s vocals were on point. The group seemed perfectly at ease performing to a relatively large amount of people, and their confidence proved to be the band’s greatest strength.
The sparkly lights and wondrous tones that accompanied their performance of Talking Dreams made it clear that the group were going for a fairytale-esque theme, which, whilst complementing the overall image and tone of the band, felt like a missed opportunity as it was only implemented in a handful of their tracks. Things took a rather bizarre turn when the group suddenly started a rendition of Mark Ronson’s global hit Uptown Funk, a version which, whilst vocally and instrumentally sound, felt rather out of place amongst the array of Paramore-like songs that come before it. Despite this minor hiccup, the first half of the show was enjoyable; their performances of current single Come Together and Bright kept the momentum going and provided fans an opportunity to sing along to their better known tracks.
Unfortunately, it was in the second half that the band started to struggle, though the reasons behind this are not entirely their own doing. The trouble with touring with only one album worth of material, and therefore not having any older singles to fall back on, is that there will be inevitable ‘low points’, as a succession of album tracks are performed that only the most enthusiastic of fans are able to sing along to. Whilst the band attempted to rectify this problem by interacting with the crowd, it felt mostly forced and not fitting with the UK market. Asking a male and a female volunteer to come on stage and pretend to fall in love may serve to entertain a crowd over in the States, but here in the UK the awkwardness of the situation was omniscient, and it was painful to watch the ‘couple’ nervously dance together for an entire song before they were allowed to skulk back into the crowd. That’s not to say that all of their attempts to connect with the fans were unsuccessful; the photos and video they took with the crowd served as a pleasant respite, as well as showing a love for the audience.
Fortunately for the band, energy quickly re-surfaced during the performance of their final track Cool Kids. The sheer amount of singing along confirmed that this was the song many in the crowd came to see, and it gave a glimpse in to what their future gigs could be like once they become more established in the UK. Ultimately, the impressive vocals and energetic band members made the night enjoyable, despite the wain in the crowd’s enthusiasm. However, the subsequent failings in finding ways to remedy this problem prevents me from labelling the night as ‘excellent’. Echosmith are a band that have the talent and the potential to make it big here in the UK, and as long as they learn from the mistakes their current tour has brought about, I can see no reason why they will not go on to have a very successful career.
Before the show I got the chance to have a quick chat with Noah Sierota, the bassist of Echosmith, about the origins of the band and their reaction to the success of Cool Kids.
Firstly, how have you found the UK? Have you been here often?
This is our third time in the UK, though we have only ever been to London before so it’s been fun to visit other parts of the country.
I like it. It’s a little colder, for sure, and there is a lot of rain. We’re from California so the cloudy weather is very different.
Congratulations on the huge success of Cool Kids, both in America and over here. Did you ever think whilst creating the song that if would be as successful as it is?
When we wrote it we never thought of it as a single, even though we loved it, and we later decided to just put it out there as nothing special. It was the second song from the album and suddenly we had fans singing it back to us and it was then that we hoped it might become something bigger and it ended up growing and growing.
You released Cool Kids back in 2013 but it took a while to make an impact. What would you say the reasons behind this long gap are? More radio promotion later on?
It’s an interesting story as it took so long even breaking America, like a year and a half. It just happened that way for some reason, I don’t know why. It could be all sorts of things.
Cool Kids is very popular on Spotify, with over 150 million streams. Do you think the increasing popularity of Spotify has had an effect on the impact of your single?
Yeah, I think that definitely has impacted it, that and the response of the fans.
Tell me a bit about how you first started out as a band. When did you form?
Around eight years ago but it’s hard to remember, as we are all siblings, when we decided to officially start a band for the first time. Growing up in LA, we played a lot of different kind of shows in as many places as we could. Whether it was a farmer’s market or a restaurant or a concert venue, for four years we were just doing that, back when hardly anybody came to our shows. It took a while.
Did you find it difficult to stand out in LA?
It’s very difficult as there are so many different artists and its hard to break through that noise. For us, we just kept playing and most of the shows we played at the beginning had nobody or around ten people. It took a long time of pushing but we got there.
How would you describe your music? What genre would you put it in?
Generally we use the words like ‘alternative pop’ to describe it. We have all sorts of influences from different genres and we love using real instruments in music, and we are also into modern kinds of sounds as well.
In the song writing proccess do you all contribute or is there a main songwriter?
It depends on what song it is, really, as it can start from anywhere or it can start from one member, or all of us. One person could walk in the room with an idea but there’s no rule. We just let the music speak from whoever started it and see what direction it takes.
Finally, what would you say has been the highpoint of your career so far?
The headline tour we just did in the US was special and we played a really big venue: one thousand two hundred in LA and after eight years of playing there performing at a sold out show was a purely special moment for us. Coming home and seeing your friends and family was great, as was seeing all the people we worked with back when we started out.
I’d like to thank Noah for his time and the album Talking Dreams is out now.