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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Why I’m in love with the Backseat Lovers

The Backseat Lovers put on a passionate, invigorating folk-rock show at their March 2 Brooklyn Bowl gig.
Claire Gatlin
An energetic crowd dances along at the Brooklyn Bowl. (Hustler Staff/Claire Gatlin)

“We just wrote this song ten minutes ago about bowling … in Nashville” lead singer Joshua Harmon announced to the Brooklyn Bowl audience, before launching into their song with 119 million streams on Spotify, “Kilby Girl.” 

With the opening guitar strums, the crowd screamed and rushed forward, everyone ten feet closer than they had been before. The moment the chorus hit was pure folk-rock music magic— lights pulsed, the crowd sang every word, and the band ruled the stage, engaging the audience with their high-energy guitar riffs. 

Lead singer Joshua Harmon performs the opening set. (Hustler Staff/Claire Gatlin) (Claire Gatlin)

If you’ve opened TikTok and heard the lines—“I overheard that she was nineteen / She’s got a fake ID and a nose ring / Those kind of girls tend to know things / Better than I do,” then you’ve heard the Backseat Lovers. And aside from writing lyrics that may or may not be relatable to many college-age students, the Salt Lake City-based band has been putting out hit after hit since 2018. The band has built a grassroots following, allowing them to sell out show after show, perform at major music festivals like Lollapalooza and ACL, and garner mass support for their debut album, “When We Were Friends.” 

On March 2, they arrived at the Brooklyn Bowl, preceded by the Salt Lake City-based band Over Under and Nashville-based band Mercury. Mercury. is a young, up-and-coming indie band that has opened for similar artists, like Briston Maroney. After a lively performance by these openers, the Backseat Lovers finally took the stage, surrounded by lights, smoke and stained glass windows. The concert was staggering, awe-inspiring and made me feel like I was in a classic teen rock movie.

If you were to look up a setlist for the Backseat Lovers, their opening song would be titled “Intro Jam.” I can’t think of a better way to describe their long, melodic hook, where the band members begin steady and quiet, gradually reaching a crescendo where the bass, drums and electric guitar all align and create peak anticipation within the crowd. The band then jumped into their 2019 release, “Just a Boy,” a vibrant tune ending with Harmon practically yelling to the crowd “you’re stuck in the groove.” 

If anyone needed more invitation to get out of the groove, this was it.

The Backseat Lovers also know how to walk the line between emotion-filled folksy lyrics, and killer guitar melodies, making you want to dance around the room. At the show, they mixed stripped-down lines about waiting for someone to notice you with loud guitar solos in their song “Pool House.” Then, they dove into their simple, sunny-sounding song, “Pictures,” followed by the long, loud rock-concert intro to “Heavy.” 

Lead vocalist Joshua Harmon plays in front of the art-deco-style stained glass backdrop. (Hustler Staff/Claire Gatlin) (Claire Gatlin)

Never one to be predictable, the band launched into a dreamy unreleased song, “Growing, Dying,” before jumping head-on into fan favorites “Out of Tune,” “Maple Syrup” and “Kilby Girl.” The sheer energy of the crowd during the set is a testament to the power and ambition of the Backseat Lovers. From early and modest beginnings in Utah, they’ve grown to the point where they can enter any U.S. city and find a large, dedicated group of fans who know every note.

But no fear if all of the jumping and dancing gets tiring because lead vocalist Joshua Harmon always makes sure to check-in, especially after a rowdy song. “I hope you guys are all doing ok out there,” he said into the microphone, “let me know if you need anything.” Don’t worry Harmon, we’re all doing great out here.

Their high-energy songs were offset with quieter ones like “Still a Friend,” and their unreleased song “Slowing Down,” which the crowd quieted and stilled to listen to. Aside from giving concertgoers a moment to rest, the songs show the versatility of the band and make listeners excited to hear what’s next. 

In a time-honored tradition, they ended the show with an encore of “Sinking Ship.” The band likens it to a chance to take anything weighing you down and let it out. At the outset, the song choice seems a little odd for the encore of a loud, rock- and guitar-heavy show. Harmon sang quietly into the microphone, and the intro was slow, with light guitar strumming. Then, suddenly, when everything is almost silent, the band dives into a booming, lively chorus about not holding back. It’s a song that allows concertgoers the last chance to scream-sing along to every word and lose themselves in the lights and magnetism of the night. I left feeling revitalized, full of life and excitement for what’s to come (even if it’s just my Thursday 9 A.M.) and that’s why I’m in love with the Backseat Lovers.

If you missed the concert and want to feel like you were there, check out their recent release, Live From the Troubadour, recorded live in West Hollywood. 

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About the Contributor
Claire Gatlin
Claire Gatlin, Former Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
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1 year ago

This band stole their entire sound from the Eugene Oregon band Novacane..