The Pour House
Charleston band Slow Runner left their traditional rock ways behind them years ago, but they only recently found the perfect balance between analog and digital instrumentation and samples to create the dance-inducing music they favor.
Last year's three-song EP Ghost Rendition was a mix of a classic style of melodic piano pop with a more contemporary synth 'n' sample indie-rock approach. Celebrating the release of their new full-length Damage Points, singer/keyboardist Michael Flynn and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaler demonstrated a fresh formula with a solid and energetic set last week. If Ghost Rendition signaled a new direction, the Damage Points set boasted a sense of accomplishment and confidence with their fine-tuned style.
Kaler produced the new album at his Hello Telescope Studio. More than a few audio samples and programmed beats coming through the Pour House PA originated at the Hello Telescope mixing desk.
The Slow Runner lineup at the Pour House included a few buds who've collaborated with Flynn and Kaler before, including drummer Jack Burg, percussionist Ron Wiltrout on marimba, shakers, and tambourine, and Jonathan Gray on electric and upright bass and occasional synth.
The band ran through most of Damage Points right away. Positioned at his electric piano and Casio at center stage, Flynn started the show with the title track of the new album, singing the first verse with only a bit of piano before the whole band joined in on a Queen-esque crescendo. Seated at his keyboards, he was barely visible from the back of the room, blocked by a small sea of heads and hats. His voice was loud and clear, though.
The upbeat "Auto Happy" provided another early-set highlight, with Burg emulating the drum machine disco beats, Kaler sawing away at electric Gibson SG guitar, and Gray hopping around at stage right while handling the mesmerizing bass lines. Flynn's mantra of "You make me sing to the house plants" stood out in the choruses. Burg's heavy tom work and Wiltrout's tasteful embellishments propelled the dark and moody "Devil Moon," on which Flynn sang that he'd "trade [his] piano for a time machine."
There was a whole lotta shakin' going on between the extra guests on stage during "You're All I Need," also from Ghost Rendition. The jam provided one of the more atmospheric and electronically orchestrated moments of the set.
Kaler's occasional pedal steel work colored the sonic landscape towards the end of the show. A lively, reggae-flavored cover of Swedish pop singer Robyn's "Dancehall Queen" was a pleasant surprise during the band's two-song encore.