Now, I could certainly be accused of a certain level of cronyism, or favoritism, or nepotism, or some such other ism because two of my closest friends are in this band. I get that, but regardless of one's tendency to look more favorably upon one's friends--and I am not one to mince words or hold back criticisms--there comes a point where good is good. Free Lions are good, and last night at Que Sera in Long Beach, they were very good. A constant issue during performances has been finding the right mix, and the night didn't start well with lead singer/guitarist Shayne Fee's amp dying during sound check, but as it turned out they sounded better than ever, all six members meshing to give the songs their proper due.
"Nirvana Song" started things off on a dark note, flowing perfectly into one of their best and oldest tunes, "It's OK," which set us up with the crashing bridge of just vocals and drums that only tease the actual sonic crescendo that comes on its heels. Trying something I hadn't seen from them before, the first four songs melded together without pause, before backup singer Jocelyn Fee took over lead duties for the cheerier "AD." Then we were treated to a new song, one that saw the pop influences of the band seep through to strong effect.
Of the eight songs they played, only two ("Astronaut Wife Depression" being the other) were holdovers from the original batch that debuted at The Good Hurt, and while they are still very good songs, it was exciting to hear so much growth in the newer material, in particular "Come on Back" and ""Flip Your Rig." If "Astronaut Wife Depression" is about a hopeful moment in a relationship, "Flip Your Rig" (which I'm almost positive is not referencing a deleted scene from Convoy) is about that relationship gone bad. Starting off with a bouncy but quiet guitar and Shayne's somewhat manic vocals, the emotion erupts with the chorus of "'Cause I don't want you no more!" It hits hard but is over quick, making it a great closer and a nice microcosm of the entire set, which left me wanting more.
Set List: Nirvana Song / It's OK / Astronaut Wife Depression / Come on Back / AD / New Song / River Song / Flip Your Rig