All Photos © Tony Tran / SpyOnVegas
Terraplane Sun are still in the honeymoon period of being in a band: experienced enough to have the chops and feel comfortable in their own skin, but not jaded in any way whatsoever. Their music is a just a bit dirtied up and loose, much like the drunk bikini-clad twenty-something’s splashing in the shallow waters of the Boulevard Pool last night. The California-based quintet played as part of the ongoing BLVD Summer Concert Series that takes place on Thursday nights at The Cosmopolitan. Whereas they usually empty the pool for larger acts, the waters are open for business (provided you have swimwear) during these events.
Terraplane Sun transitioned from folksy to bluesy to rock within their set. Multi-instrumentalist Gabe Feenberg’s Wurlitzer flourishes and trombone add a unique element that makes their songs difficult to immediately classify. I’d never think that a band sounding like this would hail from Venice Beach, and as it turns out, they’re all from different parts of the country. They’re young too—guitarist Johnny Zambetti announced that he was “also 21” while giving a birthday shout-out to some concert goers.
Ben Rothbard’s vocals are the secret sauce to the ’Sun music. They occupy a slightly nasally upper register, yet aren’t annoying. If I had to recreate them, I’d combine equal parts Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant, Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon, and sprinkle in some Dylan, blending until smooth. Zambetti’s mandolin playing on a few songs also adds a nice quirky element to the mix.
They’re seemingly not afraid to pull influences directly into their live performance; “Slow Train” featured an intro from Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” They also covered Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love.” The rest of the setlist included most of the songs off Coyote, as well as some new ones including “Ya Never Know” (which included an intro borrowed from Neil Young’s “Into the Black”),and “Friends.”
The earnestness of this band was clearly visible during moments when Rothbard proclaimed that “We’re on Facebook…connect with us” and “This song is called ‘Get Me Golden’ and it’s in 21 Jump St.” Clearly proud of their hard-earned achievements, I think we’ll be hearing them in more Citibank commercials as they round the bases.
ArtsVegas: Covering Las Vegas Art and culture since 2009.