AB Concert: smallpools and gnash

This past Saturday, I got the chance to expand my musical pool of knowledge. Not only did I get to listen to some indie music, a genre I usually avoid, but I also got to meet some very interesting personalities.

smallpools, a six-year-old indie pop band, kicked off the night with a selection of performances from their album The Science of Letting Go. True to its title, the tracks described the various stages of ending a relationship, including denial, sadness, and eventual acceptance. As a single girl though, I thought some of the songs could be seen as describing letting go of a certain part of your life, like breaking up with a major or an activity that has started to turn toxic.

Towards the end of their segment, smallpools brought a rather quirky story about their name. During their early years, they used to google their name, only to meet results about the hazards of keeping killer whales in small pools. As a tribute, their subsequent performance featured a killer whale balloon being bounced among the audience, much to the delight of the students who eventually got to take home a souvenir.

At around 8:50, gnash was ready to take the stage. His look bore similarity to Justin Bieber’s Mumbai performance: a loose Mickey Mouse graphic t-shirt with shorts. Performing tracks from his latest album we, gnash’s songs seemed to revolve around the theme of mental health. He seemed to truly hit some sensitive spots with the crowd with his songs, especially “insane” (“Tomorrow’s the day I might go insane”), and his special mentions about self-love.

Now by this point, my inner cynic would have inhaled her fifth cup of black coffee and screamed, “Stop acting like my therapist,” and “this is not an after-school special!” I’ll admit that his persona reminded me of the seasonally appropriate candy corn: funky-colored with a lot of sugar. The eccentric clash of neon lights with jewel-toned ones certainly didn’t contrast that image. And while I’ll admit that I found his music to be a little redundant after five songs, I certainly admired his charisma. His willingness to be vulnerable in front of the audience made him much loved by the audience both during and after his show.

All in all, it was a great experience and a night well spent, although I think the music of both bands might take more than just one performance to truly earn a place on my playlists. Personally, I’d say that the repertoire of smallpools fit my usual preference of alternate bands, although I certainly wouldn’t mind a gnash tune from time to time.