Live Review

The Ruby Suns, Schubas Tavern, Chicago

Only a couple of tracks will standout in the morning.

As the atmospheric vocal swells of ‘Fight Softly’’s ‘Two Humans’ begin bouncing through Schubas’ Wednesday night crowd it becomes immediately apparent that The Ruby Suns could easily capitalize on Chicago’s first summer-weathered evening with their unique brand of seaside pop psychedelic. Unfortunately, this heroic pursuit, although valiantly fought for, is at many times lost amidst the band’s determination to depart from the world-influenced guitar aesthetic of 2008’s breakout album ‘Sea Lion’. This is not to say that the Ruby Suns should only stick to material that put them on the proverbial indie map, but the somewhat monotonous electro drive of the primarily ‘Fight Softly’ setlist leads to a definite sense of sunny-side-synth burnout.

For every winning track, like ‘Mingus and Pike’ or ‘Cinco’, that pleasantly pulses the crowd into a smiling tizzy, songs such as ‘Cranberry’ and ‘Haunted House’ tread on much too long in newfound electro experimentation and 1990’s house-synth throwback.

The Ruby Suns display a true sense of organic originality in their past material. With a unique blending of sunny Afro-pop infused with indie-sensible Polynesian beach jams the band had something truly fresh to offer. Something the SubPop-influenced indie scene was in many ways lacking. So it is a bit of a shame that these influences are not more fully integrated into the night’s setlist because they would perfectly balance the newer electro-driven material.

In a way, this lack of creative balance and syth-centeredness can be summarized best in founding Ruby Suns member Ryan McPhun’s mid-set crowd conversation when he admits that the band have “an infatuation with the idea of Spring break.” The Ruby Suns have continuously displayed their thorough understanding of inventive summer melodies through broad ranged indie-experimentalism, but instead of elaborating on this theme they try to encapsulate everything in a singular blitz of summer electro vibes and, like Spring Break, it is in many ways exciting, but ultimately an all too limited format to give any lasting satisfaction.

However, this is not all to say that The Ruby Suns are an overall lacking live act. Not in the slightest. Their thumping jungle-infused hooks and ambient vocal swellings do well to initiate summer vibes and turbulent dance floor footwork. Attendees of their shows will leave sweaty and smiling, but only a couple of tracks will standout in the morning.

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