Last week, I braved one of winter’s most brutal weeks here in New York City to see Brooklyn’s indie rock band Ski Lodge and Sweden’s electro-pop outfit Urban Cone. Despite the frostbitten face and temporary use of my numbed out-limbs, the little trek to the Mercury Lounge was worth it. So kudos to all involved! It’s not everyday you get a quality bill at an early show during the middle of the week.

Ski Lodge opened the night with a handful of tracks off their self-titled EP, a collection of breezy lo-fi pop. These songs possess hints of afro-pop bounce, as well as just something that hints at jangly, old school guitar-driven surf rock; overall, absolutely nostalgic, fun and feel-good, especially on a night when all I craved was some warm vibes. Interspersed between their older material were some newer songs that the band’s been working on over the last few months. As much as I love their aforementioned EP, the new stuff sounds very promising. It’s a bit more intricate and unpredictable, in a good way, and the vocals are more pronounced and in focus. It doesn’t necessarily grab at you immediately hook-wise like their previous tunes, but that’s not a bad thing. It shows that the group is poking and prodding in different directions, trying out different arrangements and ways of basically building their songs — it’s a great sign. And, despite playing this new material, the group (who added a new drummer not too long ago) sounded tight and totally comfortable with the set. Now I’m anxiously awaiting their debut full-length…

A Game

I Would Die To Be

That evening Urban Cone celebrated their NYC debut and their energy and aura throughout the entire set reflected that. I’m always amazed and so pleased when I witness a band just shamelessly enjoying performing. Live music is meant to be an experience, and a wholly unique one at that. It’s live; it’s not a record, it’s not Spotify, it’s not the radio. There should be a palpable feeling of gusto and enthusiasm during any performance. Urban Cone brought it all, pouring every emotion — joy, despair, nervousness, anxiety, exuberance — onto the stage. Their songs vary from perky synth-pop to more slick dance-y songs, but one thing remains constant: the total believability in each of their hooks. When the chorus approaches, the band takes full advantage of the build-up, running with it as long as they can as they pounce on their keyboards and trickle their fingers up and down their guitars. During the actual big moment choruses, you know it. Their songs are so well-built for these highly saccharine moments; they grip you and hold you there for a few blissful minutes, but really, the feeling stays with you even songs afterwards. They aren’t so much breaking new grounds in the electro-pop field in terms of sound, but their execution and, as I mentioned, general sincerity about it, could really separate them from their peers.

Urban Cone
We Should Go To France

Urban Cone
Black Ocean

Urban Cone
Kings & Queens
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