Microwave brings it to the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles

Photography by Kenny Jusino

Psychedelic emo-rock band Microwave had the heads of fans banging and the floors of El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, California shaking this past Tuesday, 4/11. With the help of openers Mothé, Delta Sleep, and Oso Oso, the show provided a musical haven for those who appreciate the complexity and variety of the alternative rock genre. Whether it be through Mothé’s viral hits, Delta Sleep’s intensely rhythmic math rock drum fills, Oso Oso’s unexpected riff switchups in their catchy choruses, or Microwave’s seamless blend of emotional ballads and heavy rock instrumentation, attendees received performances of a lifetime from these four artists. 

It’s hard to put an exact definition on Microwave’s sound– the Atlanta based group consisting of Nathan Hardy (lead vocals and guitar), Tyler Hill (bass), Travis Hill (guitar), and Timothy “Tito” Pittard (drums) teeters the lines of multiple genres, including alternative rock, post-hardcore, emo, and psychedelic rock. Because of their genre flexibility, Microwave has been able to create a fresh yet familiar and relatable sound that resonates with a broad listener base. Their music contains elements reminiscent of Deftones, Joyce Manor, and Title Fight, packed with authentic lyrics that make fans feel something. The band has spent the last decade curating their unique musical stylings, with their debut album Stovall turning ten next year. Microwave later gained a following and widespread critical acclaim with their iconic release “Much Love”, for which an anniversary edition with two acoustic bonus tracks was issued this year. Fans of this cult classic album are able to purchase the anniversary edition vinyl, along with other pressings, clothing, and posters at the merch booth on this tour. 

To open the show at El Rey, listeners were treated to songs by the up-and-coming indie-alternative artist Spencer Fort, more commonly known by their stage name Mothé. Mothé shot up in the scene after receiving attention on TikTok for their song “Debt Collector”, serving as evidence of just how much power this popular social media app holds in skyrocketing musicians to stardom. Next up was Delta Sleep, the underground math rock band who made their way across the pond from the UK. While some may be initially caught off guard by the unconventional time signatures and strange structures of their tunes, each instrument seemed to fall effortlessly into place. Their set was an auditory treat for listeners, as one could spend hours trying to focus on and appreciate each nuanced guitar line, drum fill, and tempo change. The final opener was Oso Oso, who electrified the vibe with their strong buildups, memorable hooks, and upbeat tracks. While their sound certainly has midwestern emo elements similar to groups like Mom Jeans, many of their songs provide a noisy garage rock twist reminiscent of Turnover or The Backseat Lovers. Each member of the band had energetic stage presence, revitalizing the crowd into a beautiful mess of dancing and moshing. They closed their set out with popular track “gb/ol h/nf” (goodbye old love hello new friend), whose driving surf rock beats were sure to get you moving. 

Finally, Microwave made their way on stage to close out the night. Fans erupted into cheers and screams as each member entered into view, but the room quickly shifted from the excitement of their entrance to a quiet and respectful appreciation of Nathan’s beautiful vocals of their first track of the set, “Ferrari”.

The crowd was then immediately whipped back into headbangs and mosh pits with “Mirrors,” the infectious hard rock song dripping with drop tune guitar effects and screams from Hardy.

This track comes from their most recent new music release, Death Is A Warm Blanket, an album that dropped in late 2019. With many dates for this album’s tour postponed due to the pandemic, Microwave took the opportunity to play a plethora of songs from the album off of this release at Tuesday’s show. The crowd’s volume definitively reached its peak during “Lighterless,” an insanely catchy tune off of 2016’s Much Love. By far their most popular song, it seemed as though every single attendee had been waiting to scream the lyrics of the infectious chorus (and for any fans that may have been lighter-less that night, Microwave kindly sold branded lighters at their merch table). The band ended their set with “Vomit”, a song that perfectly demonstrates the nuanced juxtaposition of Microwave’s sound as a whole: emotional lyrics and beautiful vocals against heavy rock instruments and moments of screaming.

This concert was truly a treat for lovers of the alternative rock and emo genres alike. While there were recurring musical themes and sounds amongst the bands, they each showcased intriguing variance, ensuring that there was something for everyone in attendance at El Rey. These four bands are continuing their spring tour of the U.S. through the end of this month and will hit cities such as Dallas, Orlando, Nashville, and Atlanta next week. To experience the energy firsthand, head over to mcrwv.com to snag any remaining tickets! Follow us on Spotify to hear the show’s setlist!

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