Lower Dens opens for Of Monsters and Men in a hazy ode to the eighties

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Baltimore’s iconic indie pop band Lower Dens brought its misty, nostalgic sound to the Bay Area on Tuesday. Oakland’s Fox Theater saw a swarm of fans pack in from the beginning of the night — lined up early to get good spots for the sway-worthy night ahead.

Lower Dens may be listed as an indie pop band on Wikipedia, but hints of dance pop and club music can be traced throughout the band’s repertoire. Considering the group was stopping at the Fox to open for Icelandic super band Of Monsters and Men, there was the expectation of a seamless blend of styles which Lower Dens delivered flawlessly, serving up a calm evening to the crowd.  

The stage setup was simple — drummer Nate Nelson’s broad set occupied the left side of the platform while lead singer Jana Hunter stood front and center under the gleaming lights.  

An ode to the eighties, Lower Dens’s sound is full of synthesizers, atmospheric twinkles and boisterous vocals. Hunter sported stylish shades as she sang before the crowd. Calm, cool and collected, the vocalist approached every note with ease. Hunter breezed through every song with seeming effortlessness, maintaining the mellow vibe of the night and exciting the crowd for what was ahead.

The band released its newest album, The Competition, Sept. 6 as its sophomore record. And although the group was promoting its fresh material, older songs like “To Die in L.A.” were surely not forgotten by this crowd.  

Both fortunately and unfortunately for Lower Dens, many of the group’s songs have similar pacing; frolicking electro beats against cloudy backgrounds. Because of this, the whole performance seemed to blend into one full experience — variation isn’t always the most necessary when the vibe is right.

During the performance of “Simple Life,” the lights above the stage synchronized with the beats in a trance of electronic sounds. Upon first listen, it’s hard to believe that this song was produced in the 21st century, the glitter and glam all too reminiscent of the eighties to be born in the present. 

Such is the nature of most things about Lower Dens: from the performance aesthetic to the wistful homage to everyone’s favorite age of leg warmers and Corey Hart, this band is worth all of your totally tubular attention. Fans of this performance should be sure to check out the entire album — songs “Hand of God,” “I Drive” and “Young Republicans” are definitely not ones to miss. You didn’t have to be alive in the eighties to ride the Lower Dens wavelength — just fall into all the drama the decade deserves.

And, with this show anyway, Lower Dens gave audiences the privilege to live the John Hughes night of their dreams.

Skylar De Paul covers music. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.