SAN DIEGO READER
BACK TO
CAPITAL CITIES

Capital Cities' spirited retro sound


Electro-pop act packs House of Blues and gets everyone moving
By Donovan Roche, Dec. 12, 2014

I got my introduction to the L.A.-based electro-pop band Capital Cities — beyond the megahit “Safe & Sound” — at Coachella this year. There I discovered their penchant for lazy hooks and lofty horns, which easily won over the throng. Inside a packed House of Blues, where the six-piece played its “last North American date for a long time,” it was much the same.

Two songs in, “Chartreuse” gave co-lead vocalists Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian the chance to unleash their hokey dance moves and trumpeter extraordinaire Spencer Ludwig the springboard to foreshadow spotlight-stealing solos on “Love Away” and encore-saver “Farrah Fawcett Hair.”

Whipping through fan favorites such as “Kangaroo Court” and “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo,” it was clear that if you didn’t come here to sing along and work out choreographed dancing, you were in the wrong place. At different times it felt like a frat party, a rave, and a Eurodance club.

Playing nearly everything from its debut, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery — plus crowd-pleasing covers of Michael Jackson, Bee Gees, Prince, and Madonna — the 16-song set was a welcome reminder of what I learned months earlier about Capital Cities’ spirited retro sound: It’s good.