With Drowners and Two Harbours
RecordBar, Kansas City
Thursday, May 2, 2014
Temples have a lot going for them at the moment. Since forming in 2012, the Kettering, England, psych-rock foursome has so far enjoyed a relatively swift rise in popularity - perhaps due in part to fans like Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher, who, as you've likely heard by now, consider Temples to be the "best new band in Britain."
The release of February's Sun Structures
added some strength to the claim, and in recent months, Temples have become one the most hyped bands on tour. The near-capacity turnout last night for the band's RecordBar show was further evidence of how far this young band's sound has reached.
"They told us this was the worst-selling gig on the tour," announced lead singer James Bagshaw late in the set. "And look at all of you! We're so grateful you came, truly."
As a frontman, Bagshaw is captivating - though not immediately. With an impressive mass of curls and carefully painted glitter around his eyes, it's hard not to want to watch him, but the Temples' hourlong set was designed as a slow build. For the first three songs, Bagshaw and his bandmates - drummer Sam Toms, bassist Thomas Edison Warmsley, and guitarist and keyboardist Adam Smith - seemed to be dipping their toes into the water. They played stoically, unsmiling, and when Bagshaw's mic briefly cut out during "Colours to Life," something more than irritation flashed across his face.
But after "Sun Structures," perhaps noticing the enchanted attentiveness of the audience, Bagshaw and company seemed to loosen up. They took to introducing songs. There was little stage banter and little showmanship - the members seemed, instead, perfectly content to let their arrangements take the spotlight.
For the most part, Temples' tracks take a similar route: a bit of fuzzy, lightheaded guitars, choruses drenched in reverb, beats that stack on top of one another until a sort of sonic euphoria can at least be vouched for by someone (and there were a lot of euphoric listeners at RecordBar last night). "A Question Isn't Answered" began with a prerecorded clapping intro before it took shape as a sprawling, charismatic riff bleeder. Smith and Toms contribute dreamy vocal harmonies on most of the songs, and theirs is a smooth, sparkling layer. As Bagshaw announced that the next song "Ankh" would be "delving into the world of B-sides," a guy behind me shouted something up at him: "You're doing so good right now!"
"Cheers, man," nodded Bagshaw, before dipping into the hazy song. The dude would continue to drunkenly validate the band for the remainder of the set, and at one point, emotionally lamented that he "wished he was as good" as Temples.
The more Temples performed, the more the entire concert seemed closer to a voyage in mysticism, with Bagshaw as the newly elected guru of psychedelic music (he certainly looked the part). On "Move With the Seasons," the audience members simultaneously nodded their heads in time with the melody. I'm sure there were a few in the crowd who thought the set spiritual.
It seems obvious that part of the success of this young band, and part of the draw, is owed to the band's influences: plenty of the Byrds, the Zombies, the 13th Floor Elevators - hell, you can hear snippets of anything from the Summer of Love era up through the glamorous early 1970s. And there is no arguing how skillfully Temples accomplishes this sound; were Sun Structures
released, say, four decades ago, it would probably be one of those albums that you listened to with your parents. But as much as I want to worship this band - because they are talented, and they sound wonderful - I can't get past the notion that comparisons with other acts come far too readily.
But Temples is a young band still, and there is plenty of time for them to put their own stamp on this new-vintage sound they are drawn to. And they seem to have no problems winning over fans. Long after the Temples concluded its set last night, audience members stuck around to shake hands with Bagshaw and tell him, in earnest, how very good he was doing.
: I just really, really want to give them all a haircut.
Note - there was no encore break.