We may be in the city, but many of us haven’t completely severed ties with our suburban roots — 80s and 90s nostalgia have entered their adolescence as indie bands wistfully recall midwestern emo while interrogating cookie cutter suburban malaise.
Nowhere was this more on display than at Gallery5 on Thursday, showcasing Richmond’s dream-scene with Cupid McCoy‘s lookbook release with support from Big Baby and Cream Dream.
The event also featured This Too We Shall Hold Dearly, the “performative clothing debut” collaboration between McCoy, Simeon Kyota Rideb and Margot Herr.
Cupid McCoy quotes teen satire Heathers on their aptly descriptive Bandcamp site: “Are we going to prom or to hell?”
It might as well be the evening’s thesis statement. McCoy and co. oozed the new wave heartache of dance hall days while adding their own contemporary sound.
Big Baby kicked the night off in a big way. The dual-fronted duo of Chris Smith and Ali Mislowsky, with the addition of Brian Dove on drums, have rounded out their sound and come home with confidence. Their light and rhythmic guitar riffs are most appropriate blasted with the windows down, cruising to the beach with a new crush.
Throughout their set, they carried the type of melancholy that makes you want to move. In songs like “Still Hurt,” and “Crush,” the realities of modern love are made visceral in the sober vocals, stark lyrics and box step beats.
Welcoming us with open arms, a tabled computer and a guitar hung loosely around their frame, Cupid McCoy crooned into the mic next with a savory tone that marks the new wave of the New Wave.
McCoy’s use of computer tracks, however, grounded the airy guitar and voice in the present.
In their second song (the second of their newly release album, “Cherry Tree // Cerisier”) McCoy rolled their eyes up and blinked away into the sky like a lady lounging pool side in Palm Springs telling her pool boy she needs more ice for her G&T. Eat your heart out, Lana Del Rey, you’ve met your much more profound match.
Coming in next with a Paul Anka cover, “Puppy Love,” McCoy hit the nail on the head. The artist takes 1970s bubblegum and makes it accessible for listeners while still achieving sweetness.
McCoy’s lyrics contained longing, but also enticement–crooning “do you want to cross that line?” in their last song, they seemed to invite the audience to jump barriers, cross lines and ask for a dance.
The Big Hearts Club streetwear show came during a break in McCoy’s set as they played an instrumental backing to models showing off their wears.
Can we also take a quick moment to celebrate mixed-genre bills? I love the idea of a combined concert/fashion show, and really hope McCoy and co. keep it up!
My favorite look of the night was a model sporting a Little Bo Peep floral printed jump suit designed by Rideb, but you can pick your own by checking out the digital version of the lookbook here.
Closing the evening’s festivities, Cream Dream began their set with an instrumental piece of ephemeral movements and dissonant breaks, setting the tone for their journeying, spacey set.
While the lead vocalist and guitarist sang with an impressively high range, it was the bass player who stole the show. He was in the pocket and grooving with every beat, the kind of groove that is infectious.
The lyrics, “don’t want to do this anymore,” relay the angst felt from the performers against the rather vivacious guitar and bass line. In the band’s third song, a standout, the highs and lows of the music mimic the peaks and valleys experienced when you know you’ve got to move on–but the beat keeps bringing you back in.
As it turns out, the ’90s have nothing on what we’ve got now.
Check out photos from the event by Alison Thompson below: