Last Friday, as the sun set over The Observatory in Santa Ana, British indie-rockers Circa Waves took the stage inside the jam-packed Constellation Room to kick off the fourth stop in their debut stateside tour.
As dim red and blue stage lights illuminated the concrete walls and eager crowd, the Liverpool rock band pounded their instruments to the sound of deafening applause and brand new music off their first U.S. album.
The impressive throng of fans flocked from Santa Ana and beyond to see Circa Waves play their first-ever Orange County show, including one Circa devotee who waited outside the venue since early that morning just to get a front-row view of the band as soon as the doors opened. Circa Waves may be new to the American scene, but their fervent U.S. fans made them feel right at home.
Circa Waves hosted a sound check party before the show to speak to journalists and share their impressive trajectory from small-time indie band to headlining major venues across America.
Circa vocalist Kieran Shudall told the story of his relatively young, but explosive career and how Circa Waves first came into existence. Shudall met bassist Sam Rourke and guitarist Joe Falconer back in 2013 while working at Liverpool Sound City, finally rounding out the lineup with drummer Colin Jones earlier this year. The musicians gravitated together and Circa Waves was officially born.
“From the age of fifteen on, I did [want to be a musician]. I remember having an epiphany”, said guitarist Joe Falconer. “Before that, I wanted to be a chemist”.
Judging by the band’s success, what they’re doing now is “much more fun,” in lead singer Kieran’s words.
Since the band’s inception, they have subtly perfected their indie-rock sound, evolving into something reminiscent of other well-known British-indie groups such as Foals and The Vaccines. Yet they still retain their own distinctive features — passionate vocals, heavy percussion, and fast-paced lyrics.
Circa Waves dropped their first American EP in June 2014. Last Friday, their Santa Ana show marked the sensational release of their first full-length album in the United States, Young Chasers, available on Spotify and through the band’s website.
Bird Dog, a rising Los Angeles indie-rock band, kicked off the gig and opened for Circa. The mustachioed musicians — who are in the process of developing their first EP — played in calm contrast to the bands that would follow. However, they were just as utterly visceral. Heavily synchronized, even down to the beers they drank, the band belted out lyrics alongside their lead singer Maxim Rainer. Despite the band’s relative freshness, their experience playing at Echo Park Rising and opening for established acts like Circa Waves and Oberhofer prove that they are certainly worth looking at.
After Bird Dog, came the main act of the night — Circa Waves. During the show, the band performed hit songs off of their album, Young Chasers, including “T-Shirt Weather” and “Stuck in My Teeth”. Kieran often paused in the middle of choruses, holding out his microphone above the electrified audience, who dutifully chanted back the songs’ catchy hooks:
“It’s gonna be ok!” the crowd roared in unison, shaking the dance floor beneath their feet.
After Circa Waves bid Santa Ana goodnight, New York band Oberhofer took the Constellation Room stage and delivered an incredible follow-up.
Spearheaded by singer/songwriter and band namesake, Brad Oberhofer, the ensemble put on a wildly experimental show — at one point shutting off all the lights in the venue and screaming song lyrics into the dark auditorium. Soon after, Oberhofer himself jumped down from the stage and writhed on the floor through the audience while strumming away on his baby-blue electric guitar. The band’s surf-rock sound is similar to Best Coast, but with a heavy dose of eccentricity, liveliness, and theatricality. Oberhofer’s sophomore album, Chronovision, will be available October 19.
After a night of outstanding musicality and showmanship, the words of Circa Waves guitarist Joe Falconer linger in the air.
“I don’t have a boring life,” he laughed during an interview and with shows like these, neither do his fans.