This summer has been nothing but growth for electro-rock band VHS Collection. Following a riveting performance at NYC’s Governor’s Ball and the release of their single ‘Animal’ (which garnered instant success to the tune of 700k streams and counting), VHS Collection has been steadily making a name for themselves. And tonight, they return to their native town of Brooklyn for what could be considered a warm-up show ahead of this year’s post-summer tour (well, the one yet to be announced).
As you’ll probably recall, 2016 was just about the year for electro-synthwave albums to break out of the underground music world, and in the spirit of that, was also the year we were graced with VHS Collection’s debut album, Stereo Hype. Though the album enjoyed fairly moderate success (lead single ‘Waiting On the Summer’ saw around 21 million plays on Spotify), it probably should’ve been more popular than it was. But, this summer has proved different for VHS Collection: as evidenced by their hit new single and a sold-out one-off show, it’s obvious they’re finally gaining traction.
And rightfully so. Given their wide span of instrumental talent and melodic flexibility, there’s very little room for debate over VHS Collection’s musical abilities. At times sounding more like a rock concert than anything electro-focused, tonight’s show was a true showcase of everything they were capable of. What was striking was that they stayed completely true to their sound, even without using the same recording materials used in the studio. Live production, surprisingly so, seemed to rely less on any synths (and more on the two guitars that seemed to be at the forefront of the performance), yet still managed to sound nearly identical to that of what was recorded in the studio. The ends of their songs were especially lush, with the two guitarists banging out solos as if they were playing to the heavens at a classic rock gig. They’d really lived up to their classification of electro-rock: onstage it felt as though any hint of electronica or pop had been chucked away, and we’d crossed squarely into the territory of classic alternative, with of course, some synths. The fact that they pull off this strangely delicate balance makes you wonder why they fall so under the radar of what is current and mainstream, and makes you question what type of music really belongs on the radio.
Frontman James Bohannon is a sight to behold: his stage presence is advanced and quite immediately noticeable; there’s no debate on whether this man was enjoying every minute of performing. He and the band ended each song with a certain aire of confidence, as if they knew the next one would be even better than the last— impressive, considering the bar was each time set quite high. And he certainly was right: the crowd continued to be fired up even further, song after song, and by the end of the night everyone was begging for more. However, once it was done, it was done. There was no running off the stage and coming back for an encore (a concert staple we’ve come to expect); instead, they played their best songs to date, and finished in a timely fashion. There was absolutely no time for the audience to get bored and/or burned out (not that we would, of course), and instead left us itching to know when we’d be seeing them next.
But ‘One’ was something of an encore. As soon as the band announced it would be the last song, the crowd absolutely swelled with a renewed vigor, just as if the band had left the stage and come back on again full-force. The opening notes alone were enough to rile up the crowd; after all, it is an upbeat tune that’s quintessential summer sing-a-long. From start to finish, ‘One’ was easily one of their best live songs, complete with a screaming crowd and the addition of even more ear-pleasing instrumentals than the recorded version. VHS Collection makes light work of the synths and 808’s, both in recordings and live, with a precision that mirrors some of synth-rock’s best songs— all while adding their own melodic flair. Their entire discography makes for a wonderful collection of summer tunes that guide your feet to the dance floor. It was absolutely fitting for an outdoor summer night, if for any reason the entire audience wasn’t already singing at the top of their lungs, they were now.
VHS Collection are not currently on tour, but stay tuned for an announcement in the very near future, as we overheard exclusive word that they’ll be hitting the road sometime before the end of this year.