By Nicholas Volpe
New York’s LVL UP is officially finished. The four-piece lo-fi indie rock band announced their end to the band back in June. After seven years of playing shows, recording, and touring, LVL UP decided to plan one last tour before calling it quits. Supported by locals Caroline Says and Skirts, LVL UP went all out at Barracuda in Austin and made sure to satisfy their fans with one last ride.
Taking the stage first was local Austin four-piece band Caroline Says. Their first album, 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong, was initially released on a small cassette label to a small, but enthusiastic, reception and later released on Western Vinyl to a much larger, but equally enthusiastic, reception. Lead singer and songwriter Caroline Sallee’s music is somewhere in between bedroom dream pop and surf rock. Live, their sound is much more electrified than on their recordings. The acoustic guitars become electric while Sallee’s vocals ring out throughout the venue. Caroline Says play often in Austin and if you ever have the chance to see them, don’t hesitate.
Hailing from East Texas, Skirts did a great job of translating their bedroom pop out of the bedroom and onto the stage. The two-piece only consists of guitars, vocals, and drums, and yet their sound is full. The sparseness of instruments makes lead singer Alex Montenegro’s lyrics stand out. When Montenegro sings, “Love is gross sometimes,” you have no choice but to believe her. The vocal harmonies stand out clearly, and while the recordings largely use an acoustic guitar, Skirts instead chooses to use an electric guitar. This lends well to the interplay between the drums and guitar. Currently on tour, Skirts are undoubtedly bringing their lo-fi sounds to the rest of America in a great way.
LVL UP fittingly took the stage last. This was my second time to see them and the energy they put into their performance made it obvious that they are going all out on their last tour. While taking cues from alternative rock legends like Pavement, LVL UP are able to put a modern spin on the sad boi slacker rock indie pop sound that has become so popular recently. And yet, the energy was enough to start a mosh pit. Armed with a Telecaster and Danelectro guitar, the two vocalists Mike Caridi and Dave Benton each sing their own songs instead of harmonizing. The vocals were very dry in the mix making each vocal part stand out. Drummer, Greg Rutkin, brought great energy while staying perfectly on time. LVL UP put on a great enough performance to receive an encore. Taking requests from the audience, LVL UP performed three more songs.
Overall, it was great to see a band performing for the last time in a city and giving the fans everything they wanted. Although they will be missed, LVL UP made a few great albums for people to listen to and definitely gave it their all when performing live. Then judging by how young their fan base looks it seems like a newer generation of musicians undoubtedly look up to them. It will be exciting to see what the future holds for the members of LVL UP and their fans.
Featured image by Nicholas Volpe.