Petite League, the collaboration of Lorenzo Cook and Henry Schoonmaker, ended their Midwest tour in Madison at Der Rathskeller on Friday Oct. 6. Their sound blended the qualities of garage rock and indie-surf resulting in pessimistic anecdotes being placed over sunny pop sounds.
At the start of the night, the room was seven people shy from empty. Nevertheless, the opening artist, Holly and the Nice Lions, still played exuberantly. The band performed punk-rock tunes full of chaotic drums and guitar riffs. Shortly after introducing themselves, the audience became disinterested. For the rest of their set, the audience passively listened to Holly and the Nice Lions; the audience’s focus lied elsewhere.
While the band was talented, their sound didn’t quite align with the bubblegum tunes that the crowd loved hearing from Petite League. Maybe on a different night with a different crowd the band’s performance could have influenced people to bang their heads and jump around, but instead the audience remained lifeless throughout their set. By the end of Holly and the Nice Lions’ set, a crowd began to trickle in, ready for the main act.
Once Petite League came on, people flocked towards the stage, making standing space hard to find. The change of sound from the opening artist to Petite League was fairly noticeable, some would even say Petite League was easier on the ears. Their sound could be characterized as indie-rock that made you want sway your hips and tap your feet. Listening to Petite League live transported me to sunny Southern California. Their upbeat, fun melodies featuring danceable riffs generated a sense of nostalgia for juvenile summers spent outdoors. The only thing that reminded me that I was not indulging in the heat of the summer was the sporadic jolts of bright white lighting flashing through the windows in the background. A thunderstorm overtook Madison.
Between each song, Petite League indulged in conversations with members in the crowd, each time revealing more of themselves. They described their college experiences at Syracuse University. Cook got a chance to show off his extensive knowledge of the German language, telling the crowd that “der Ratherskeller” means “the tavern.”
The boys were full of candor, making the band members feel more like college buddies rather than famous garage rockers. At one point, after a flawless performance of a song, the band beamed and exchanged nods. Cook said, “We’re really happy because [they] usually fuck up the last part of the song.”
Unfortunately, the band only played new songs from their newest album, Rips One into the Night, skipping over fan favorites such as “Raspberry Seeds” and “Little Fourth of July.” The band’s set was extremely short — at most ten songs were performed — which left the audience swindled out of a thorough performance of the band’s discography. Since the band has three albums under their belt, they definitely could have used their two-hour slot more usefully. There is a real possibility that Holly and the Nice Lions actually performed longer than Petite League did. At the end of the set, Cook closed out telling the audience to pick up a record or t-shirt in true garage-rock fashion.
Overall, Petite League filled the venue with positive vibes but lacked the ability to use their two-hour time frame to the best of their ability.