Caveman – Belly Up Tavern, San Diego – May 21, 2016

Opening for Frightened Rabbit at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, was Caveman, an indie rock band from Brooklyn. Like a lot of Brooklyn bands that have emerged recently, their song-craft is superb, with interesting vocal and instrumental melodies, vocal harmonies and creative drum patterns.  I was reminded of a couple of “chill-wave” bands, also from Brooklyn, that I saw at The Casbah a couple of years ago: Small Black and Snowmine and thought that they would fit well on a bill together.  Really though, I would go further back to describe Caveman’s sound.  With their strong melodies and infectious hooks, the band reminded me of an updated Hall & Oates – but only if Daryl and John could also stretch out and really rock a la My Morning Jacket.

This mix of pop sensibility combined with driving, guitar-driven rock was on full display during the song “Never Going Back” which will be the lead track on their upcoming LP, Otero War.  The number starts with a simple vocal melody accompanied by spare 70’s-style keyboard chords; then for the second verse a short drum fill brings in the rest of the band and they charge ahead with a strong TWOD-ish groove.  The song then explodes and morphs into a full jam-band rock number with a long and surprisingly muscular guitar solo.

The crowd was just beginning to fill in when Caveman started their set and everyone was really just half watching the band, drinking and talking.  By the third or fourth song the crowd started to really pay attention and by the time the final notes stopped ringing on the last song, “In the City”, you would have thought that Caveman was the headliner.

Here’s the view from my seat:

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