I trekked to Nighthawks on the western edge of Riverside to see local alt-rockers Edenfield open for Lala Lala and Ian Sweet. Nighthawks recently transformed the former home of The Norm into a perfect small venue for local and touring musicians alike. The upgraded sound system and stage lights make for a big stage feel in a small room. Promoter Mike Kelly’s efforts keep a fresh mix of genres and acts flowing through the doors.
This particular Tuesday night, Nighthawks was quiet, but it didn’t last long. A pair of touring trios, Lala Lala and Ian Sweet took the stage second and third, respectively. Both trios are a bit of a throwback to garage-grunge, weaving simple but powerful themes and riffs into a bigger-than-it-looks sound. Despite their similarities, and even sharing of equipment, each band is distinctly unique. Lala Lala’s airy vocals and churning guitar — provided that night by Lillie West exclusively from a seated or lying position on the stage — settle gently on Abby Black and Karla Bernasconi’s understated rhythm section. Ian Sweet is a more frenetic affair, punctuated by drummer Tim Cheney’s thrashing on the skins. Meanwhile, Jillian Medford (guitar, vocals) soulfully barks into the mic over lively jangling guitar riffs, all supported by the deft basslines and excellent hair of Damien Scalise. Find either on Bandcamp and you won’t be disappointed.
Edenfield was the hit of the night for me though. Their sound is a tight, well-refined mix of some of my favorite 90s alterna-pop jams like Our Lady Peace and Gin Blossoms. This comes as no surprise, as the band is heavily influenced by groups like Stereophonics, Stone Roses, and Collective Soul. As a result of their influences, each song sounds at once familiar and fresh. The current lineup has been together since late 2015, and it’s immediately apparent that each musician is well-suited and fully committed to the sound. Frontman Adam Christiansen sets the tone on a ringing rhythm guitar and layers on top Oasis-esque vocals, while Ryan Daugherty’s smooth leads fill out the melodies. Matt Duncan (bass) and Daniel Hastings (drums) lay down a solid and technical low-end that drives the rest of the band reliably through each tune. On stage, Edenfield plays like a band that has been there before, and even with new songs from their album-in-progress added in the mix (due out in 2018), they maintain an easy efficiency to their set. If you missed them this time around, I highly recommend you catch them back at Nighthawks on June 9th. In the meantime, you can find their first album, “Sometimes During The Winter”, on iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify.