Nestled in a secluded area of San Francisco’s Mission district, Bottom of the Hill feels out of place amid sterile vacant commercial spaces and sprawling concrete. Its Victorian facade and austere cobalt neon sign manages to wring out an astonishing amount of warmth from the frigid February air.
Away from the cold and inside the venue, a sea of beanie-clad 20-somethings milled about waiting for Kansas City indie rock outfit, The Greeting Committee, to take the stage. The band’s local success began to climb back in 2015 when a local radio station broadcasted its track “Hands Down,” and the group released two LPs in the period following this early success: This Is It (2018) and Dandelion (2021).
In a good way, The Greeting Committee feels very much like a product of 2010s indie Tumblr milieu — lead singer Addie Sartino even penned an essay for the now-defunct “Rookie” magazine, in which she references twee cult classic “500 Days of Summer.” The band’s set at Bottom of the Hill on Feb. 23 harkened back to those simpler times, back to when people just kicked and put Vampire Weekend on shuffle, deaf to any looming societal breaks.
When Sartino bounded onstage in a satin, creamsicle-y pantsuit and tank top a few minutes shy of 10 p.m., a palpable wave of epinephrine coursed through the crowd. With a mass of mullet-sporting bodies smashed up against the stage, the absence of a barricade lent the band’s set a pleasant, slightly rough-around-the-edges aura. The turgid bassline of “Can I Leave Me Too?” blared through the room, adorned with string lights and leftover handmade Valentine’s Day decorations.
“Why does everybody drive the same car you do?” Sartino belted, perfunctorily stripping off her blazer. Much of The Greeting Committee’s set continued in this vein of unbridled exuberance, with Sartino, bassist Pierce Turcotte and barefoot guitarist Brandon Yangmi thrashing about, lyrics inscrutable amid the band’s panache and the crowd’s gesticulations.
“Addie made me gay!” someone yelled during a cover of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well,” which Sartino dedicated to LGBTQ+ concertgoers.
“If you’re queer, this song’s for you, and if you’re not, that’s okay; you’ll get the next one,” she quipped.
Perhaps not being able to parse any lyrics is not the great misfortune it might initially seem. The Greeting Committee often deals in cliches glazed with that sweet, indie rock singer-songwriter sheen. “Listening to the 1975 while getting high/ in somebody’s basement,” Sartino sings on “Float Away.”
But the band isn’t all platitudes and flashpoints of Gen Z nostalgia (the kind suited to the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” sequel soundtrack) — or, at the very least, those aspects fade during live performance, usurped by the band’s infectious, crowdsourced verve. Sartino is a captivating performer, elevating the group’s milquetoast lyricism and stock guitar licks with strident uninhibition. At one point, she even plunged herself right into the center of the crowd.
Later in the night, the band dialed up the energy even further with “Dancing to Nothing At All,” a jazzy business in the front, party in the back number. “If you’re going to love someone/ Let it be me!” Sartino yelled before the band descended into instrumental mayhem immediately followed by “You’ve Got Me,” another frothy, saxophone-heavy crooner.
About two-thirds of the way through the set, Sartino decided to slow things down, opting to play a stripped-back version of “Call in the Morning” and asking the audience if they could be quiet for a moment. The song, arguably Sartino’s most personal, is about the fear of losing a loved one to suicide. At some points, her voice recalled her contemporary Samia’s, suffused with desperation and occasionally breaching into an uncanny falsetto.
“Call in the Morning” agitates, offering a clean break from the sonic version of insobriety that washed over the evening with a near imperceptible stealth. The Greeting Committee’s set was a potent reminder of how affecting and cathartic music can be when deeply entrenched vulnerabilities are given space to surface.
Contact Emma Murphree at [email protected].