by Ethan Cohen
Before departing for the European leg of their tour, New York synthpop band Porches made a quick stop at the Larimer Lounge with a set that was not to be missed. Rivergazer and Japanese Breakfast supported the headliner ensuring the lineup would be chock-full of auto tuned vocals, slight gyrations of the pelvis and the palpable energy and quirkiness that Porches is known for, and boy was it. The band stuck mainly with tracks off their most recent LP, Pool, which places significantly more emphasis on the synthesizer than on previous releases, and only seems to make frontman Aaron Maine’s melodies even more infectious than on previous releases. The setlist also included tracks from Slow Dance in the Cosmos, Ronald Paris, and a deep cut from Scrap and Love Songs Revisited. Highlights included “Car”, “Daddies”, and the super sexy smash hit: “Underwater”, which ended the night in a memorable way.
Everything about Porches just seems to work. Their aesthetic and stage presence is as unique as the music it compliments. The sound is sharp, bouncy and incredibly tight all around, with no traces of sloppiness or half-assed experimentation. One could argue that Porches may benefit from a bit of onstage experimentation, but part of the charm for me is how cleancut the tracks are. The beats and bass riffs are funky to a T, leaving every song sounding perfectly rehearsed. And while they may not be as free-form or punk as a lot of bands in the same scene, Porches has taken the synthpop components and crafted one of the most unique sounds in indie music. Maine himself has remarked that his music has become far less pessimistic than it once was, which became abundantly obvious to me after last night’s show. The music is neither happy nor sad, though. There is existential dread, but not in the obvious, Hallmark-y way more mainstream indie bands use it, if that makes any sense. Porches is about feeling yourself, in the mundane moments that we all drag ourselves through and that we generally tend to disregard. Porches takes those moments and mashes them into a synthesizer, and out comes something that you can feel and think about for a few minutes that you otherwise might not. I think this is true of a lot of synthpop, this emphasis on the mundane. Somewhere along the way, you find yourself connecting with sounds you didn’t think you would. Porches appears to have that down pat.
Almost as entertaining as the music was the band’s energy, specifically that of sharply dressed, delightfully quirky Aaron Maine. His stream of consciousness babbling while tuning was honestly a show in itself. As if feeling like he needed to say something every time he tuned his guitar, he managed to make the audience laugh several times, and consequently put us at ease. Something else notable was his genuine gratitude for the audience. He thanked us profusely for coming out, and at one point said “it always amazes me when anyone shows up to these damn shows”. So long as Porches continues to expand its discography by not staying still, evolving and exploring new sounds, there’s no doubt people will keep coming out to those “damn shows” for the foreseeable future.