by Chloe Catajan
Brothers Ross and Rocky Lynch are just about halfway through their first tour as their music project, The Driver Era, but the Los Angeles duo still had ways of making its San Francisco show feel extra special.
Right off the bat, Ross charged to center stage and let the audience know that they were in one of his favorite cities in the world. The Driver Era—backed by siblings Riker and Rydel on bass and keys, and Ellington Ratliff on drums—then took off with brand new single, "Feel You Now," which the sold-out crowd readily echoed word-for-word.
But the show wasn't only special for The Driver Era's Bay Area fans; the feeling went both ways. It was the first time the band would perform unreleased cut "San Francisco" in its namesake city, making the sentimental slowburner feel even dreamier. "Natural," another unreleased song, also came with a special message from Riker, dedicating it to his fiancée who was in the crowd that night celebrating her birthday.
The overall setlist included a mix of The Driver Era's current singles, unreleased tracks and a couple songs by R5 (the group's former project). It was a true testament to the outfit's growing and sonically adventurous catalog. As R5's "Red Velvet" featured a summery, pop-rock melody hardened by a rap verse from Ross, newer cuts like "Feel You Now" and "Afterglow" took on consistently heavier instrumentals. Thick basslines contrasted with shimmery guitar and keyboard licks projected this intense energy that still radiated a feel-good, windows rolled down kind of atmosphere. All of this against Ross' and Rocky's rich croons really delivered The Driver Era's nostalgically cool, jukebox aesthetic.
The Driver Era also brought out covers of Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," during which Ross channeled his best Heath Ledger from
10 Things I Hate About You impression, as well as INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart." A three-song encore that included "Low," "Preacher Man" and R5's "Did You Have Your Fun?" capped the night, a perfect send-off for the high energy set.
Moontower opened with a high-energy performance that felt like a headlining set of its own. As Tom Carpenter and Devan Welsh switched between cranking out heavy-ripping riffage and frothy synths, lead singer-guitarist Jake Culver serenaded the crowd with his vocal capacities along with some sweet use of autotune. The Southern California trio filled the venue with cosmic soundscapes, elevated by Culver's interactive stage presence.
Moontower's set included new cuts "Long Hair" and "Lay With Me," as well as a cover of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out."
(Photos: Chloe Catajan / Banner photo: thedriverera.com)