As the Bottleneck began to fill in on a warm September night, I began to notice the range of ages and styles who came to see Mild High Club. High schoolers and middle-aged punks alike shuffled in to witness the silky jams and impressive showmanship.
The Shy Boys came out first offering an upbeat cheery pop that got the crowd in the mood to move. Hailing from Kansas City, their simple melodies and catchy choruses brought a fun attitude to the venue. The dynamic vocal range of Shy Boys’ lead singer, Collin Rausch, stole the spotlight for this local opener as he belted delicious, controlled high notes.
Then came the main act, Mild High Club. After adjusting my camera settings for a calm, stagnant performance, I quickly realized I would need to reconfigure the way I shot this concert. What I thought would be a fun show, but more or less a rattling off of their studio tracks, turned into a beautiful experience spearheaded by the enthusiasm and charisma of Mild High’s frontman, Alexander Brettin.
The stage layout felt deliberate to create an intimate and cozy atmosphere for the performers. Both keyboardists faced each other as they played while Brettin shared his synth with other members of the band who would occasionally pop up and offer a hand. No artist aside from the drummer stayed in their starting spot the whole show making the stage feel like it was organic and breathing.
After settling in, the band played their hits as well as a few tracks off their most recent album, Going Going Gone from September of last year. In my eyes, the songs from this record always stood in the shadow of smash hits from their 2016 album, Skiptracing. Such giants like Homage and Tesselation served as a window into Mild High’s discography which was never explored by most. Brettin and the rest of the band, clearly taking pride in Going Going Gone, gave stunning performances for personal favorites from the 2021 record, Dinoysan State and Me Myself and Dollar Hell.
Performing their hits, Mild High’s live tracks from Skiptracing deviated from their studio recordings in a fun and interesting way. Skiptracing, the title track, leaned into the samba feel of its chorus prompting the crowd to move with the tropical sway. Kokopeli was also a standout performance, sticking to their studio version before fading into a warm, noisy composition.
Above the lackadaisical sway of these mellow tunes, Brettin stole the spotlight. His vocal clarity rang through the instrumentals in every song, complementing their laid-back disposition. Throughout the show Brettin was consistently animated and expressive, making him a blast to watch and photograph.
The band finished up their set and Brettin lagged behind to greet and chat with the crowd, warmly accepting compliments and fist bumps. A few snaps from my camera later and I strutted out in a stream of satisfied attendees.