Review: Mild High Club brings hazy indie rock to the EMU Ballroom

Mild High Club, the jangly solo project of LA-based musician Alexander Brettin, performed a free show at the EMU Ballroom on Friday night. Brettin, along with his touring bandmates, brought a set of hazy, jazz-inspired indie music to the ballroom’s relaxed atmosphere. The concert also featured an opening set from …

Mild High Club, the jangly solo project of LA-based musician Alexander Brettin, performed a free show at the EMU Ballroom on Friday night. Brettin, along with his touring bandmates, brought a set of hazy, jazz-inspired indie music to the ballroom’s relaxed atmosphere. The concert also featured an opening set from the local Eugene band Laundry.

Prior to the doors opening, a line had already snaked around the McMillan Gallery on the second floor of the EMU.

The crowd, however, consisted of a predominantly college-aged group. The trendy attire — crewneck sweaters, tasteful graphic tees, carefully constructed color palettes — likely tipped off passersby to the type of alternative music being performed.

Laundry took the stage shortly after 7 p.m., after everyone had shuffled in.

Despite its role as the opener, the band received a large amount of attention from the audience. Self-described as “punk funk,” Laundry has recently made a name for itself in the Eugene music scene, with regular billings at various house shows around town.

The band’s performance Friday night kept a high energy, contrasting quiet bedroom pop moments with loud, bluesy guitar rock. Laundry’s entire set lasted around 45 minutes.

After Laundry, members of Mild High Club came out to prep the stage. The headliner then started its set around 8 p.m., with a fitting opening number, the instrumental “Club Intro.”

Brettin and his bandmates kept a casual vibe throughout, with music that was somewhat hypnotizing — sleepy but never boring. Most of the hits, from both the debut and sophomore albums, made their way into the setlist.

Performances of the melancholic “Skiptracing” and the tightly-arranged “Windowpane” lived up to the quality of their respective studio recordings. Brettin, who remained on guitar for the majority of the set, moved over to the synthesizer for the song “Kokopelli,” which featured some controlled psychedelic freakouts.

A jazzy instrumental — similar to Mild High Club’s guest work on last year’s King Gizzard album, “Sketches of Brunswick East”— highlighted Brettin’s musical roots. The artist studied jazz music during his time at Columbia College in Chicago, and this influence shined through when the band covered the infectious Roy Ayers track, “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” at the end of its set.

The crowd may have noticeably dwindled toward the end of the show, but everybody hanging around remained enthusiastic. People danced in the open space near the back. A large disco ball periodically lit up the venue.

Brettin also appeared to genuinely enjoy his time performing, thanking the audience between many of the songs. There wasn’t much stage banter, but Brettin did ask at the beginning of the show if anyone could give him a Ducks shirt. Unfortunately, the Duck Store had already closed.

The concert felt slightly anticlimactic when the band strolled off stage at the end of night. But Mild High Club didn’t need a big ending. The band’s psychedelic pop music was tight, polished and pleasant throughout, providing for a great Friday evening.

The free show, presented by the University of Oregon Music and Concerts Team, was open for anyone to attend.


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