Under the bright lights: SXSW studs bring party


What: Bright Light Social Hour with Liam Jones and The Overtones

When: 9 p.m. Tuesday

Where: The Lemon Grove,

122 W. Federal St., Youngstown

Tickets: call 330-744-7683

By John Benson


For the past few years, the Bright Light Social Hour has been rocking its hometown of Austin, Texas, which is no easy feat.

The Lone Star State’s capital is known as a hotbed of music, which means a band conquering that city — as it did earlier this year winning six South by Southwest Music and Media Conference awards — has to be pretty darn good. Local music fans will find out for themselves when this up-and-coming band makes its Youngstown debut Tuesday at the Lemon Grove.

However, first impressions being what they may, odds are the initial thing audiences will notice about the Bright Light Social Hour isn’t its unique mix of rock, funk, soul and psychedelia. Instead, it’s bassist-singer Jack O’Brien’s mustache, which is equal parts Cheech Marin and Cochese (played by MCA) from the Beastie Boy’s hilarious 1994 “Sabotage” video.

“Right on,” O’Brien said. “I don’t know; it does its own thing. We coexist; we’re pals. I don’t mind it. It’s good for chicks whose dads like mustaches. It helps a lot. I just trimmed it for the first time a few weeks ago. When I first started wearing it, people started remembering the band more by it. The group was like, ‘You gotta keep it.’ Now I have a hard time parting with it.”

The members of the Bright Light Social Hour are hoping music listeners have a hard time parting with its 2010 self-titled debut, which has been described as Daft Punk-meets-The Allman Brothers, as well as a herky-jerky Steely Dan on fast-forward. Whatever the case, the music stands out as being brash and seemingly without boundaries.

From the organ-heavy funk of “La Piedra De La Iguana” to the R&B-esque “Detroit” and 10-minute jam “Garden of the Gods,” the outfit often confounds newcomers. In fact, Bright Light Social Hour has become accustomed to helping its audiences ease their way through the band-acclimation process.

“We generally start the set with ‘Shanty,’” keyboardist-singer A.J. Vincent said. “We think it’s a good display of all our instruments and parts and stuff. It kind of slowly progresses, and people progress with us. They’ll be drawn in. By the end of ‘Shanty,’ we’re rocking out really hard and, generally, people are like right there with us. It’s somewhere in that song and the next song, ‘Bare Hands Bare Feet,’ where people kind of loosen up. That’s pretty common, actually.”

For a peek into the Bright Light Social Hour mind-set, look no further than the debut album cover depicting a commune-esque summertime party filled with beautiful ladies (some of which are topless), a rowdy atmosphere and O’Brien’s overbearing ’stache.

“It does capture us, particularly with the theme of the record,” Vincent said. “A lot of the songs are about community, having a good time and overcoming hard times. And I think we nailed it with the record cover.”

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