Saturday night’s show at Lofi Brewing was especially nostalgic for the locals who looked forward to the return of Charleston-bred Cry Baby, who were performing in town for the first time since their new vocalist Alex Carlson joined in place of Jamie Gray.
Cry Baby was joined by Tennis Courts and The Backfires, who made their Lofi debut. This NYC takeover came at the end of both The Backfires and Cry Baby’s fall tours, and they made sure to give Charleston what it’s been waiting so patiently for– an electrifying evening with familiar classics and new tunes.
There was an overwhelming sense of community even before the sets began– so much that while Tennis Courts checked sound, there was a vibe that the show had already begun, and a crowd of people gathered in front of the stage (myself included).
Tennis Courts kicked things off with “Yellow Lays” the first track off their new record You Won’t Find It On Your Own, released September 23rd. With the initial electrifying guitar note luring in the audience to the stage– from then on all eyes and ears were locked in.
The sliding guitar riffs resolved into a cohesive harmony throughout. Even with Cannon Rogers (Cannon and the Boxes) filling in on guitar for this leg of the tour– the group sounded like they’d been playing together for years. This was the first time Tennis Courts appeared in their hometown since releasing the new album, and they made sure to give these tracks the attention they deserved.
I thought it was a bold choice that the entire setlist was composed of songs from the new album, but noticed the crowd’s engagement throughout and turned to be one of those surreal moments where fan loyalty overcomes familiarity– as I wouldn’t expect anything different from Tennis Courts.
They ended their set with “Stench” which was coincidentally requested by an enthusiastic audience member almost exactly as the song began. The scream-like hail mary vocals had the audience ensuring their own migraines for the following day, with uncontrollable headbanging to close out the unforgettable set.
Tennis Courts at Lofi Brewing 10/7/23 (Photos by Sarah Grace Sherbondy)
Cry Baby played second, and just like any middle child they immediately set the stage on fire with their summer single “Hollister”, a 90s dream pop melody. This performance gave a new boy band twist ever since former lead singer Jamie Gray left to pursue her own projects. Fans embraced newest member and lead vocalist Alex Carlson as he summoned the crowd to the frontline in magnetic fashion.
Following an energetic opener, Cry Baby showed off that upbeat rhythm a lot of us are familiar with from their older tunes, added with newer sounds that were similar to The 1975, with a heavier post-rave core, refreshingly.
Their most recent single release “Pretend” came next as bassist Joey Haines announced it as the “breakup portion of the set” easing the crowd into raising their glasses and phone flashlights side to side. Carlson brought out the acoustic for this one as the synchronosity between members was similar to that of a sibling harmony, and this reformed group’s chemistry was undeniable.
Cry Baby really changed up the set with a fan favorite and covered Blur’s “Song 2 “ as the moshing reached its peak with Haines making sure to get as much time standing on top of the speaker, respectfully. This group showed off their new approach to the music with a certain flair and closed out with “The Show” psyching up the crowd as they cheered for an encore.
To catch their breath after a physically-inducing set, the crowd dispersed to refill on beverages. It had reached the point in the night where a group would call their Ubers, as midnight inched closer.
Cry Baby at Lofi Brewing 10/7/23 (Photos by Sarah Grace Sherbondy)
The Backfires, hailing from both sides of the Atlantic of NYC and the UK didn’t let it phase them that some people headed home. Filling in for usual drummer Max Wanduragala was Franky Centeno, and the band dynamics were just as cohesive as the last time I saw them play live in Charleston.
The late night crowd wasn’t shy to head to the front of the stage as The Backfires started off their set with “Going Gets Easy”, a classic from their 2021 EP Consider the Backfires.
They continued the rock portion of the night with more classics, newer tunes and the obligatory “When We Were Young” by The Killers, which the audience appreciated as they sang every word. The Backfires intrigued stragglers smoking cigarettes out back to come inside with their angsty shreddy guitar sections.
The audience took full advantage of the group being in Charleston, and sent them off with some foreseen moshing. With heavy rock roots and a solid fanbase everyone should keep an eye out because it’s only up for these guys.
The Backfires at Lofi Brewing 10/7/23 (Photos by Sarah Grace Sherbondy)
This show was much needed for Charlestonians. All three bands brought in the classics while showing off new records, styles and overall an impressive evening of gnarly talent.