There is something to be said for a well-constructed set list. You can’t come out too strong or you risk the set falling flat halfway through, with your mid-level material. You can’t start out too soft, or you will lose the interest of the crowd in favor of shots at the bar. There is an art to a strong set list. Holding the fan favorites until the middle-end, slyly building the tempo and crescendo of the music and just as the crowd starts foaming at the mouth, yank the rug out from under them and slip into a ballad phase. All of this before the fiery finale where you pull out all the stops and leave the crowd chanting, “One more song!” Imaginary People has their set list down to a science.
Lead singer Dylan Von Wagner casually strolled on to the Rough Trade stage this past week with his band sauntering on after him. With a slightly cheeky, “Good evening,” and a nod to the audience, Imaginary People began their rock’n’roll symphony with deft precision.
You can tell when a band has captured their audience’s attention. The wall-flowers abandon their perches against the edges and start to fold into the middle of the venue. The more eager fans are joined center stage by the new converts and before you know it, the concertgoers have grown into a mob of true-blue fans. Performing songs from their new album, “Dead Letterbox,” the group proved that this is a band who deserves your full attention. Von Wagner’s vocals sliced through the night air with songs like, “Stella” and “Simple Life.” Keys, drums, bass and guitars wound themselves around each other into an intricate web of musical nirvana. Although the band wasn’t much for the in-between song banter, the crowd still danced. The crowd still cheered. Because the crowd knew they were bearing witness to a killer set.
The band, formed in 2013, has a unique position on the scene. They aren’t a straight-forward rock band, nor would they be classified as a dream-pop tech band. They don’t slip into long, drawn-out jam sessions nor do they tick the box of a throwback alternative grunge group. But they do have elements of those types of music in their songs. They seem to have been schizophrenically influenced by all of the good in the major music genres, while being smart enough to toss out the generic. There is a refreshing undercurrent of technical talent in their musicianship that isn’t being masked by over-done showmanship.
In an interview with P&W, Von Wagner says that “frustration can breed creativity.” When seeing the band live and experiencing the full magnitude of their songs, one is able to palpably feel that this music comes from a place that was once buried underneath all of the restrictions of daily life – basically keeping creativity in a chokehold. Von Wagner has been brave enough to perform his music in front of us in an effort to show that yes, you can live out your dream if you just let all the other nonsense slip away. The undercurrent of wild abandon running through this group’s music is deliciously transcendent. Imaginary People possesses a “diamond-in-the-rough” quality, that over time, should evolve into a true gem of a band.
Article: Hannah Soule