Foreign Born are a Los Angeles-based indie rock unit, who write lush, layered pop songs with swinging melodies, tinkling keys, maraca-tinged dance beats and Afro-pop hints. (Imagine if someone took the Harlem Shakes or Vampire Weekend, armed them with surf boards, and plopped them down on Venice Beach.) The result is a laidback collective of fun-loving musicians, whose breezy summer tunes just might be the perfect summer soundtrack.
The band helped corroborate this claim Friday night, with a dazzling performance at Johnny Brenda’s. The crowd—tentative at first—quickly warmed up to the 6-piece, dancing and clapping to their effervescent pop.
Boston folk unit Faces on Film opened, with a low-key set of wistful tunes describing “lonesome railroad lines” and “bluejay cries.” Front man Mike Fiore kicked things off with a trio of solo numbers, his poignant vocals and plink-y guitar playing cutting through the crowd like a knife. The rest of the band soon joined him, concocting intimate and cathartic soundscapes that grew and morphed organically.
Next up was London-based the Veils, who took dramatics to a whole new level, with capricious melodies and rough-edged vocals (from lanky Aussie Finn Andrews) that seesawed between quiet and weighty and screech-y and furious. Their entire set seemed to build in intensity, and by the time they hit “Lockspur” – the final track of the night – drums thundered aggressively, chords clashed, Andrews’s voice exploded like a firecracker, and red lights flashed on and off as the audience erupted in applause.
Foreign Born closed out the night, and you could feel the tension melt from the second front man Matt Popieluch (clad in a green tank with a leaf pattern and straw hat) stepped on to stage. Lit by backlight, and covered in dry-ice, the 6-piece transformed the venue into an island dance club, complete with sunshine pop melodies, tambourines, bongo drums and a traveling maraca that was passed from audience member to audience member.
The band played tracks off the recently-released Person to Person (the laidback hit of the summer and PERFECT pool music), filling the space with tropical harmonies and impassioned jamming. The crowd bopped and swayed along merrily, and for 45-minutes, JB’s felt like paradise.