Watching a Cannons show feels like getting high. It’s easy to drift away to the band’s lulling, head-in-the-clouds synthwave, and on Sept. 22, Cannons gifted their audience at The Warfield with this intoxicating escapism.
White smoke wafted through The Warfield, glazing over an already glassy-eyed crowd. A little while after opener and Bay Area local Pink Skies left the stage, lead singer Michelle Joy, guitarist Ryan Clapham and keyboardist/bassist Paul Davis finally emerged from backstage to cheers. Lights gleamed on, pulsing and thrumming violet before simmering into calmness.
As she launched into “Shadows,” Joy glittered like a daydream in her silvery ensemble, her sleek blonde hair rolling across her shoulders. Whether she was lunging around the stage or gesturing grandly at her mic, eyes were always on her. A luminescent silhouette against whirling lights, she looked as if she had just landed on earth for the first time.
And it was a night for firsts — the dreamlike evening marked the LA-based indie pop band’s first night of their headline tour. Transfixed by Cannons’ chemistry and lucidity, San Francisco swayed along to the group’s quixotic, soothing pop. The Warfield perspired a serene restlessness, with the sheltered show not quite tranquil, yet far from still.
Joy boasted a slinky, stormy stardom: “I’m coming back like a hurricane,” she sang, insistent, “I’m gonna take you higher, on a cloud of silver haze.” Cannons’ aesthetic was almost too consistently on-the-nose, and the show enchanted most when it deviated from expectation.
Cannons’ discography isn’t the most extensive, but the group’s album titles — Fever Dream, Shadows, Night Drive — appropriately capture their tone. The band makes music for late-night pipe dreams and romantic reveries, for fogging up windshields, and their concert harbored an affinity that satisfied every impulse.
Swept up in synthwave, thousands floated through Cannons’ celestial discography. Joy’s airy, sumptuous voice skated on top of rose-tinted glasses, creating a bubble of otherworldly fantasy among interlacing hot synth, mellow guitar and brittle drums. At times, the show bordered on sickly sweet, but Cannons sufficiently and smoothly inebriated their audience on an ample reservoir of dream pop.
From the middle fingers raised during “Ruthless” to the nonchalant frustration of “Talk Talk” to the caroling beachiness of “Purple Sun,” Cannons allowed for brief flickers of theatrical resentment to shine through their holistic radiance. Yet, even as Joy tried to match the eerie melodrama of darker songs such as “Bad Dream,” the singer couldn’t help but smile at the crowd.
Her beaming felicity flushed audiences with fantasy, putting them under a rosy, starry-eyed trance. Haze from smoke made The Warfield’s high energy more unearthly and atmospheric — benevolent ease stretched across the secluded venue as it soaked up Joy’s lighthearted stage presence. During a reposeful cover of Harry Styles’ “Golden,” Joy reached into the crowd to hold hands with audience members at the barricade.
The most anticipated song of the night, however, capped the night off on an especially high note. As a buzzy, incandescent synth meandered through the vibrating venue, the lights flashed as Joy leaned into the mic: “I was on fire for you, where did you go?”
The sultry “Fire for You” melted into The Warfield like pink candy. The song shuddered with suspense and fervor, with sweetness and sensuality, before exploding into community fanfare at its post-chorus. The track throbbed like a heartbeat, its vigor barely evanescing before Cannons returned to the stage for their enchanting encore “Evening Star.”
Afterward, even as the concert’s intensity began to dissolve, the liquid evening felt warm and whole, leaving concert-goers wrapped up in what felt like cosmic euphoria.