Have your playlists gone stale? Do tasty new tunes sound tantalizing? If so, check out “You Saw Them First,” a three-day, all-ages concert series presented by Eugene radio station KNRQ and Hi-Fi Music Hall. The event features three of modern rock’s hottest acts: Joywave, In The Valley Below and X Ambassadors.
X Ambassadors are riding high on “Renegades,” the hit single from the band’s 2015 debut VHS. The track is a serious contender for song of the summer, featuring an astonishing blend of now sounds: a little folk rock, a beguilingly syncopated stomp-clap rhythm and an epic chorus that will leave you singing along while punching the air with exhilaration.
The lyrical content of “Renegades” is about a group of young mavericks carving their own path in the world — a story not unlike X Ambassadors’ own biography. “We’ve been playing music together for a long time,” guitarist Noah Feldshuh tells EW. “It’s a band about brotherhood and family. We’re a tight-knit group and that comes through in the sound.”
VHS track “Fear” features X Ambassadors label-mates, and perhaps biggest band in the universe, Imagine Dragons. Also notable is the album’s use of audio clips and interludes borrowed from family home videos. “We threaded those throughout the album, like a hip-hop record,” Feldshuh says, explaining how hip hop is a massive influence on the group.
Along with hip hop, Feldshuh says X Ambassadors grew up on modern rock acts of the early 2000s — bands like Coldplay and Kings of Leon inspired the band’s pop sensibilities.
After so many years toiling in obscurity, Feldshuh says his bandmates are remaining humble in the spotlight. “We feel very blessed to be in the position that we’re in,” he says. ”We’ve all sort of had the same goals in mind and been working for it for a long time. We want to remain humble and put one foot in front of the other.”
Also appearing is In The Valley Below, a Los Angeles-based duo blending edgy, modern electro pop with gritty guitars and a male-female vocal interplay recalling The Kills or White Stripes, with a pop sheen and fetish for ’80s-era dance music. The group is touring in support of 2014 release The Belt.
And rounding out the series is Rochester, New York’s Joywave. Joywave are pure, infectious electro pop integrating the hard-hitting edge of Nine Inch Nails with the softer side of ’80s acts like Erasure and Pet Shop Boys, as well as current British synth-poppers Hot Chip. Joywave’s 2015 debut, How Do You Feel Now?, is out now.
X Ambassadors play Wednesday, Aug. 12, In the Valley Below performs Friday, Aug. 14 and Joywave plays Monday, Aug. 17, at Hi-Fi Music Hall. All shows begin at 8 pm. Tickets are $10.37 adv., $15 door. All ages.