When I walked into the Royale to see Tall Heights I was going in with a blank slate. I had read a brief bio and their instrumentation had piqued my interest (cello, guitar, bass, drums, synth, and trumpet). But I wasn’t too familiar with their songs or genre and I’ll tell you right now, don’t hold your breath.
I walked in just as the first opening act, folk singer-songwriter Old Sea Brigade, played their last couple songs. Next up was Frances Cone who had a very similar vibe but more electro folk. Her songs weren’t bad but really nothing to note other than that the trumpet player for Tall Heights came out to play a song with them which was a nice collaboration. Both openers didn’t have much stage presence which is a bit of a turn off for me. They also didn’t really have any hooks in their tunes, which of course isn’t necessary for every song you write but I believe every band should have those few songs that everyone can pick up the lyrics or melody in a matter of seconds.
Finally it was time for Tall Heights to take the stage and that they did. The majority of the crowd was overrun with applause and cheers and at this point the venue was pretty full. They started their first song “Not Like It Was,” a harmony filled anthemic like song that holds the same dynamic the whole way through and not in a good way. They then played “Back To Autumn” then “Midnight Oil” then “The Deep End” and… you get the point. All these songs sounded very alike and not only that but it was never easy to tell where you were in the song. Take your attention away for a few seconds to check your phone and forget it, you’re lost. When I looked at the audience, the people near or at the front of the stage seemed decently interested, either swaying back and forth or having their eyes locked on the band. The most telling thing though was when a “chorus” hit, I never really saw or heard anyone sing. A band fills up the majority of the Royale and people can barely sing their lyrics? I’m genuinely amazed.
Moving on to their stage presence which wasn’t bad, they used up the stage and near the end of the show they climbed onto the giant speakers on either side of the stage. They also taught the audience a little dance move to go along with one of their songs. But their banter fell pretty flat as they weren’t funny whatsoever and sounded like they had just woken up from their pre-show nap.
After I left I tried to recall a song or a chorus or even just a lyric but nothing popped into my head. To be fair it’s not always easy to hear the words during a live performance and I’ll admit this was indeed the case. The most memorable moments were when the trumpet player came in to play a melody and it was definitely a good use for it but other then that, a pretty forgettable performance by the sad boys known as Tall Heights.