LIVE REVIEW: Bad Suns in Portland, ME
Dramatic lights and swirling chaos welcomed Bad Suns to the Port City Music Hall stage with an instant energy and stage presence that lustered throughout the entire performance.
Opening the Mystic Truth Tour set with the first track on their new album, “Away We Go,” lead singer Christo Bowman sang out, “I need some kind of connection, I need divine intervention, mystic truth.” Their third album came from a slightly darker place than the first two, a reflection of the state of the world and finding light in darkness and extraordinary in the ordinary. But somehow, within the swallowing darkness, Bad Suns bring the best of themselves forward with a bright and youthful spirit.
The set was a perfected blend of all three albums, seeming to pack in as much as possible into the hour and 10-minute set, and refusing to sacrifice any favorites. In their seven years of being a band, they’d never made it to Portland until now and made sure to give everything to the eager crowd.
Obvious favorite “Daft Pretty Boys” into “We Move Like The Ocean” got everyone singing and dancing and portrayed that they were going all out, no stops. There were lots of long-term fans and fans of the first album in attendance, almost justifying the wait. Again with the seamless weaving of tracks, they blended pieces of their discography in a way that seemed to make a story. “Violet,” “The World and I,” and “Rearview” chronicled the need to accept where you’re headed and continue the journey. This journey also highlighted the cohesiveness of the band, as harmonies and driving melodies rang on effortlessly.
The ethereal slowdown part of the set started with “Transpose” then brought out some keys for Mystic Truth final track, “Starjumper.” These parts of the set demonstrate different nuances and skills and particularly emphasized the control Bowman has over his voice. Flowing into “Swimming in the Moonlight,” the band has a connection to earth and nature themes, time and coming of age. A medley of “20 Years” and “Off She Goes” was a clever pairing, almost like the former was destined to prelude the latter.
Opposition and phases in a relationship paired the feisty “Heartbreaker” with the almost desolate “Hold Your Fire,” showing how time can affect a partnership like an audible diary. With hearts on their sleeves, the personal part continued with “This Was a Home Once.” One thing that makes music special is the connection bands can forge with fans, and songs like these are sure-fire ways to lay oneself vulnerable and invite a meaningful relationship, if only for a night of music and dancing.
Flashing back to their first album and strong second single, “Salt,” Bad Suns reignited the dance party before culminating with the latest single “One Magic Moment” to show just how far they’ve come. They were always a decently solid act, but the flow and transitions have tightened.
After a brief moment off stage to collect themselves, they returned for an encore of “Cardiac Arrest” and the deliberate sendoff “Disappear Here” for a last chance sing along. As fans danced until the lights came up, the set came full circle, and Bad Suns achieved the connection they intended at the start – a chance to interact with fans and provide a little light in the darkness.
Notable openers: Liily and Ultra Q – both young bands, but already tight groups and full of potential.