All photos: Lauren Bulbin
There’s no use trying to deny it – I’m a sucker for horns. Big, fat, shiny, explosive horn blasts that take your generic four-chord pop songs and smack them upside the head. I don’t care if it’s Reel Big Fish, Earth, Wind & Fire, that new Mountain Goats album or your little brother’s middle school jazz band playing “Birdland.” To paraphrase Brick from Anchorman, “I LOVE HORNS!” And the horn section certainly brought the goods during The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s set at the Black Cat Friday night.
Hailing from Copenhagen, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour boast a unique sound that merges those funky horn licks with new wave and soul sensibilities, as well as the colorfulness of Europop. And the band’s name is not wrong in suggesting something otherworldly about their presence. It’s a niche sound, for sure, and one that operates under a midtempo groove which suggests you liberally sway in place rather than dance yourself into a sweaty frenzy. But it’s a fresh take on escapist music, and the band hardly struggled to keep the vibe lighthearted and carefree.
Lead singer Mette Lindberg, sporting sunglasses and an extravagant multilayered outfit, served as an effective focal point throughout the night. Bouncing around the stage, she hit her notes with grace and surprisingly managed to keep her bright soprano out of squeaky Joanna Newsom territory. She nicely complemented her bandmates, who took turns manning the synth, leading spirited handclaps and busting out the horns. They kept things moving along and seemed to stress entertainment value over anything particularly deep. But I wouldn’t necessarily say this was a bad thing. Combining a few decades’ worth of pop music fads, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour in essence approach their influences thoughtfully but never appeared on the verge of taking themselves too seriously.
Drawing mostly from this year’s Out of Frequency, their set was hooky and kinetic. New songs like “Cloak & Dagger” and “Suburban Space Invader” benefitted from uncluttered arrangements, as well as the fact that they are innately catchy. Proggy detour “Theme From 45 Eugenia” didn’t fare as well, running a couple minutes longer than necessary and feeling a tad out of place. But overall their material came across winningly, especially when carried by fiery trumpet and saxophone goodness. The band’s two biggest songs, “Around The Bend” (an iPod Touch ad alumnus) and “The Golden Age,” were extra punchy in a live setting and drew the strongest crowd reactions.
Both have been featured in several commercials and TV shows, but clearly for good reason. I expected early on in the set to hear “Major,” Out of Frequency’s second single and best song, but the payoff was massive when they finished with it during their encore. With its arena-ready hook and Lindberg’s anthemic delivery, “Major” ended the evening on a high note. After keeping the Black Cat crowd enthused for over an hour, it was appropriate that they went out with guns blazing, horns and all.