Live: Milky Chance in Indianapolis

The Old National Centre in Indianapolis was packed October 17 with two major acts – Chris Isaak in the Murat Theatre, and Milky Chance with Gene Evaro Jr. in the Egyptian Room. Although age-wise I probably fit in better with the Chris Isaak group, I was happy to be in the Egyptian Room with the hipsters, hippies, and party people.

It was a fairly chill crowd, yet there was a festive atmosphere, as well as a sense of camaraderie and general good will as people waited for the show to start. When Gene Evaro Jr. took the stage, the band was greeted by enthusiastic applause, even though I’m pretty sure few people in the room had actually heard them before. Honestly, it’s nice to know that Hoosier Hospitality is alive and well!

As it turned out, the band deserved every bit of that applause. Hailing from Joshua Tree, California, the incredibly well-dressed quartet dove right into their first song, “Life is a Journey,” an upbeat tune with a strong Cali vibe. Although their set only consisted of four songs, their jazzy, slick riffs stretched each tune into overtime.

Delightful solos from guitarist/keyboardist/lead vocalist Gene Evaro Jr., sax player Clint Stoker, Bassist Piper Robison, and drummer Victor Singer captivated the audience and drew loud cheers from the appreciative crowd. My personal favorite was the Motown-inspired “Man” a fun, funky song that reminded me of songs from my childhood, yet was completely fresh and original. The party had definitely started.

It really kicked into gear, however, when Milky Chance took the stage and launched into “Clouds,” from their sophomore album, “Blossom.” The bouncy love song, with its pop/reggae/world-beat feel, was a great choice for the first song, as it set a feel-good mood for the rest of the set.  (Although I suspect a good portion of the audience was already feeling pretty good.) Kaleidoscopic lights danced and pulsated from all angles, further enhancing the slightly trippy vibe.

Milky Chance’s entire 15-song initial set was intelligently orchestrated, including a well-balanced mix of both high-energy and slower-paced jams from both “Sadnecessary” and “Blossom.” Vibrant lights, mist, and touches of techno created a constantly changing fantasy world of dreamy scenes, dramatic silhouettes, and disco memories. It was truly a beautiful sight to watch the concert goers dance, sway, raise their hands in peace signs, and generally just be happy to be there together.

Frontman/guitarist Clemens Rehbein engaged the crowd throughout the set, drawing them into the fantasy. His vocals, while strong, were nearly unintelligible due to his German accent, but it didn’t really matter because he sang and played with such passion that everyone knew what he meant.

Philipp Dausch slipped seamlessly in and out of his roles as mixer and percussionist, while bassist/guitarist Antonio Greger totally wowed the crowd with his mad harmonica skills. Talented touring drummer Sebastian Schmidt completed the group, which seemed much larger than just four guys.

When the set was over, nobody made a move to leave, because the band had yet to play their insanely popular hit single, “Stolen Chance.” When they came back on stage, they teased the crowd a bit by launching into “Dreamer.”

When the first few notes of “Stolen Dance” finally began, the crowd understandably went completely nuts. Rehbein, Dausch, and Greger all got up close and personal with the audience during the encore, creating memories for those fans that will last a lifetime.

Although the 2017 North American Tour just wrapped up, Milky Chance will be touring Europe starting I early November. They’ll be back in the US/Canada in early 2018, then off to Europe and Central/South America. If you get a chance to catch them live, take it – you can’t help but have a good time.

-Laura Fox

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