Event Detail Page

STRFKR
Premier Concerts and Manic Presents:

STRFKR

with Holy Wave, Happy Sad Face
Doors: 7:00 pm | Show: 8:00 pm
All Ages
College Street Music Hall
New Haven, CT

This event is General Admission Standing Room Only on the Floor.

STRFKR


In a journey that’s been taking new directions since it started, every step of the way has led STRFKR to Parallel Realms. The band’s energetic, danceable pop has assumed many forms since they first emerged in 2007, always reliably delivering unshakeable melodies and larger-than-life anthems infused with intellectually challenging lyrics. In recent years, STRFKR explored more experimental waters when they constructed a fuzzy dream world with their home-recorded 2020 album Future Past Life or subtracted structure entirely from fully instrumental collection Ambient 1. New album Parallel Realms finds yet another path, redefining the kind of direct, high-impact songwriting that’s long been the core of the band’s strongest material. Streamlined and immediate, the album distills STRFKR’s 15 plus years of artistic growth without forfeiting any of the perspective they’ve gained along the way. It’s their clearest, most organized, and most exciting work yet. 

As with many other albums, Parallel Realms started with sorting through a mountain of ideas looking for inspiration. While combing through stacks of partially-realized demos, it became clear that the most interesting songs all had a consistent playfulness to them. A through-line of upbeat fun gradually came into view, with a joyous vibe that sometimes bordered on ‘80s synth pop euphoria. STRFKR followed this impulse further, digging back through their archives to seek out songs that hadn’t made sense until now, but matched the specific uplifting feeling that was becoming the connective tissue for the new album. 

Subconscious lyrical patterns started arising, as well, repeatedly circling back to the idea of how different people can experience the same thing from wildly different emotional vantage points. This kind of parallel intake served as the inspiration for many of the songs, and ultimately the title of the album. Songs gelled around this concept quickly. Relentlessly hooky, “Together Forever” uses its rubbery bass line and melodic instrumentation to express different sides of the frustration and satisfaction of love. “Holding On” ping-pongs through tormented indecision about keeping a relationship alive or letting it go with a dreamy instrumental that sounds like sunbeams tearing apart the sky. Dark-yet-bubbly single “Armatron” evolves from tension to tenderness, mirroring a heated lover’s argument that settles into softness when tempers cool. This is reflected in how the song’s sassiness transitions into a more introspective feel in its second half, and is one of many moments on the album that STRFKR arrived at through heightened collaboration, not just between the band members, but with valuable input from network of trusted friends and advisors. For a band used to getting into the weeds with their highly controlled writing process, everything fell into place almost a little too effortlessly. At some point, though, they made a conscious decision to step out of their own way, not overcomplicate things, and just let the album come together around this new, singular energy. 

This approach continued into the album’s recording phase. The band returned to the stripped-down mindset they’d used when making Future Past Life, but instead of that record’s psychedelic blurriness, they applied uncluttered, no-nonsense arrangements to electro-pop bangers. The abrupt gear-shifting and experimental detours of previous albums are reshaped into concise, song-serving flashes. Minute-long ambient interludes provide palate cleansers between immediately catchy floor-filling dance tracks, and neither overstay their welcome. What really rocketed the album past the finish line was handing over mixing duties to Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blonde Redhead). This marked the most hands-off STRFKR

has ever been with the final step of any of their records, relinquishing control and just letting Coady work his magic. This followed Parallel Realms’ tendency toward collective creation, and Coady’s mixing rivaled anything the band had achieved before. The rhythm sections are huge, the hooks are crystalline, and the entire album gels into a cohesive, dynamic whole. Gone are any hints of “indie” caliber production; these songs sound enormous, with a level of glitter that contends with modern commercial radio hits. 

More than anything STRFKR has made before, Parallel Realms carries a triumphant sense of renewal. Though never implicitly stated, the elevated sound, straightforward songwriting, and especially unclouded vision of the album all convey the feeling of breaking through to new possibilities. Somehow, this many years into an ever-changing evolution, STRFKR has made some of their most accessible music yet while still furthering the introspective thinking and self-imposed challenges that have always pushed their art forward. Parallel Realms courses with positivity even in its heaviest moments. It sounds incredible, it encapsulates untold hours of multiple lives committed to making beauty out of song, and above anything else, it feels wonderful.
Links: Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify

HOLY WAVE


In Tarot readings, the Five of Cups card signifies loss and grief. Depicting a cloaked figure with a bowed head looming over three spilled chalices while ignoring two remaining vessels, the Five of Cups is generally interpreted as representing a forlorn dwelling on the past and an inability to appreciate the positive things in the present. It was this card that struck a chord with vocalist/guitarist Ryan Fuson, member of the Austin TX subversive subterranean pop outfit Holy Wave, during a Tarot reading at the height of the pandemic. “I was really sure that the music world was finished and it seemed like internet aggression and, well, aggression in general was at an all-time high, so I was ready to stop playing music,” Fuson says. “It could be so easy to become jaded and pessimistic and I had to really decide what perspective I was going to take.” Rather than abandon music, Fuson and his compatriots chose to immerse themselves in their work. Fittingly, the Tarot card became the muse for Holy Wave’s sixth full-length album—Five of Cups.

Back at the beginning of their fifteen-year career, Holy Wave leaned into a tranquil realm of psychedelia, eschewing long-form jams and guitar heroics for a dreamy pop-oriented approach. As the band evolved, the early Sgt. Peppers-meets-the-Velvets sound yielded to more sophisticated melodies and tripped-out instrumentation, effectively steering their music away from sun-bleached nostalgia to a color-saturated dimension where sounds of the past, present, and future intermingled.

The childhood friends of Fuson, Joey Cook, Kyle Hager, and Julian Ruiz grew up in El Paso, where they cut their teeth in the local DIY scene. Hungry for more music and broader perspectives, the members made frequent road trips across the Southwest to catch touring bands who opted to skip West Texas markets. That wanderlust eventually prompted their relocation to Austin, but it also permeated in their adventurous songwriting and love for touring. No small surprise then that these aural explorers felt that a whole way of life was taken from them with the onset of the pandemic. But on Five of Cups, it sounds as if the physical limitations of quarantine life prompted Holy Wave to wander even deeper into new sonic territories.

Five of Cups opens with the title track, establishing the album’s auditory and thematic modus operandi from the get-go. Holy Wave’s lysergic textural palette is immediately apparent in the song’s woozy synth lead and anti-gravity guitar jangle, but the atypical chord progressions and vocal melody steers the music away from anodyne escapism into a pensive grappling between self-determination and defeatism. Holy Wave continue to ride the wistful and phantasmic train on “Bog Song,” where the members vacillate between swells of austere minor chords and layered electric orchestration. From there, the previously released digital single “Chaparral” plays with the band’s own sense of nostalgia, weaving references of their El Paso past into a tapestry of transcendental triumph.

Like so much classic album-oriented rock music, the real magic begins to unfold in the latter half of Five of Cups. On “The Darkest Timeline,” Holy Wave recruits their friends Lorena Quintanilla and Alberto Gonzalez from the Baja California, Mexico psych duo Lorelle Meets the Obsolete to add additional ethereal layers to their intoxicating after-midnight grooves. “Nothing in the Dark” functions on a similar principle, using a steady propulsive drum pattern as the bedrock to tape-warbled synths, arpeggiated guitar chords, jet streams of fuzz, and serene vocals. Five of Cups’ ruminations on combating defeat and disappointment are directly confronted on album closer “Happier.” Once again straddling the melodic line between melancholy and breezy sophistication, Holy Wave examines the synthetic construct of happiness in our modern age and how so often the attainment of comfort lacks any true sense of joy. Yet this isn’t some nihilistic dirge. Rather, it translates as a buoyant reminder that the bandwidth of human experience inherently requires peaks and valleys, and that euphoria is often found in the search outside of the familiar.

As with the Tarot card from which it got its name, Five of Cups is an acknowledgement of hardship and a reminder to embrace the joys available to us. And like early ‘70s Pink Floyd, Holy Wave have figured out how to conjure a sense of profound exhilaration out of pathos, filtering dark elements through a lens and bending them into a kaleidoscope of light. Suicide Squeeze is proud to present Holy Wave’s Five of Cups on CD/LP/DSP released on August 4th, 2023.
Links: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify

HAPPY SAD FACE


Happy Sad Face are based out of Joshua Tree, CA. Their music is described as Psychedelic Pop. A project built first as the soundtrack to an award-winning film Happy Sad Face has emerged as a merger in emerging emergents, acting and reacting much like hydrogen molecules in water. Breaking onto the scene old broken and jaded Happy Sad Face approaches songwriting slowly almost too slow...like you wouldn't even think any songwriting was happening at all...but it is. With a new album set for release Winter 2024, Happy Sad Face is worried that the album will be cold out there and might need more layers. Look for Happy Sad Face on tour with STRFKR this year.
Links: Instagram | Spotify