After a long, tiresome week, I needed something to truly engage me on Friday night. I needed an epic show to wake me up and remind me that it was time to enjoy this weekend. As I arrived at Arlene’s Grocery, I watched as members of the crowd cheered for Episode to come out on stage. For a small venue, the chants were loud and powerful. As a fan of Episode’s two released songs, “Swim” and “Lost in Cali,” which already show an immense amount of musical diversity, I was excited to see what else these four guys had up their sleeves. Episode consists of lead singer, Dan Lonner; guitarist, Eric Sherman; bassist, Giovanni Rossini; and drummer, Brett Daniel. When these guys hit the stage, it was clear that they decided to leave everything out there, giving us an absolutely incredible performance.
Episode opened the show with a bang, playing a track called “Temptation.” I don’t know if I’ve ever seen more energy on stage right from the get-go. Lonner’s charisma and rock n’ roll attitude captivated the audience immediately. As I looked around the perfectly packed room, I watched as people moved with the music like they were truly feeling that tight rock ‘n’ roll sound. The harmony filled chants were rich additions to the already catchy chorus. They followed up with a new song, “Heat Wave,” which exhibited some exciting drum licks from Daniel. His skills on the set are undeniable and he was able to maintain very tight grooves while having fun and giving us a little something extra.
One of my favorite songs from the evening was “Emergency,” which is entirely new. Before beginning to play, Lonner said, “There’s a lot going on in the world, but there’s nobody worse than the boy who cried wolf, and that’s what this song is about.” The track took on more of a hip-hop vibe, while still exhibiting all of the characteristics of rock music. Sherman’s guitar parts were all extremely eclectic, making it fun to see how they melded the genres. The guys created a community on stage, as they used the space to its full potential by moving around, psyching each other up, and building the energy even further. They followed up with an interlude called “Hollywood,” which remained on the hip-hop side of the spectrum. Even when Episode changed up the genre, they remained true to their sound throughout, which was a very cool thing to see. That’s when I heard one of my favorite lyrics of the evening: “The Midas touch might steal your soul.” The lyrics were rich all night, and it was fun to hear Lonner give a little background about some of the songs before they played them, inviting the audience to become more acquainted with them as a group. Also worth noting, during this song, the band entered into double time for a short while, which got me really excited. Sometimes, it’s the little things.
Episode kept the night moving with exciting songs to look out for, “Falling” and “Not My Lady.” I loved “Dancing in the Dark,” which Lonner dedicated to all of the lonely folks in the room. With its slower pace, Episode proved to be dynamic with their song writing. Sherman’s lead guitar part was catchy, and the rock ‘n’ roll sound picked up in the driving chorus. The song built in the most natural way, leading up to an anthem-like ending where Lonner repeated the line, “dancing alone in the dark.” Even if you’ve never heard the song before, like me, it was easy to join in and sing along to this one. The community vibe in the room was strong, and only getting stronger.
Daniel and Rossini left the stage and Sherman pickup up an acoustic guitar, as Lonner grabbed his beer and clinked glasses with an audience member saying “fucking cheers, man!” As a group, these guys were very inviting and openly grateful for the support they were given by the fans. With just Lonner and Sherman on stage, I knew it was time for “Lost in Cali.” This song was a total diversion from the set, being acoustic, but it did not leave any part of their sound at a loss. This track has been released, so many members of the audience were singing along. The song is one of their lyrical bests to me. The melody is wonderfully original, and Lonner voice soared across the room as he sang.
Episode capped off the night by playing their biggest track to date, “Swim.” Lonner advised the crowd by saying, “If you don’t know the words, look them up on your phone, and let’s sing this motherfucker together!” It didn’t seem necessary for anyone to look up the words, as I saw most people singing along. I was singing along to one of my favorite lyrics, “Now I can’t stop. Loving you is just like poison.” This lyric has been very popular on twitter for very good reason. Lonner entered the crowd and everyone was dancing around with him. It felt good to be in the room with Episode. They started and ended with a bang, and there was no doubt in my mind that that’s how they knew it would go.
After the show, I was lucky to get a chance to chat with Lonner and Sherman for a few minutes. As far as their sound development, they used to make a lot of production-based music that veered towards R&B and hip hop, and while those influences are still very much within their sound, they wanted to move “toward the core of what we love doing, which” Lonner says, “is rocking the fuck out.” They took the last year and a half to really redevelop their sound as a rock band. Sherman said, “When you strip it down, we want to write good songs that you can play on acoustic guitar or on piano that kids will say, ‘I want to play that!’” These guys are just trying to make music that “hits you in the soul, right in the chest,” and it certainly does. When I asked them to try to describe their sound, besides stating the obvious, “rock ‘n’ roll,” Sherman had one of the best answers I’ve ever heard. He said, “if 90’s rock had a baby with 70’s rock in the 2000’s, and that baby liked only pop music, that’s our sound.” As for songwriting, Lonner and Sherman have been writing together for seven years, and they have high standards for their songs. “Sherman said, “every song has to be good acoustic, and if it’s not, we trash it immediately.”
When it comes to the music, Lonner said, “All we want is for people to listen. We have a song called ‘Dancing in the Dark’ which is about feeling like you’re the only one in the world who feels the way you do, but the fact of the matter is, you’re not. There are a million other people out there who feel exactly like you, and we understand that. We’re trying really hard to make people feel okay.” Sherman chimed in that the name Episode comes from a lyric, “late night episodes” from Motion City Soundtrack. I eagerly called out the name of the track, “Hold Me Down.” To say that we bonded over that moment would be a huge understatement. Sherman said, “I heard that lyric and thought, ‘late night episode’ can mean so many things. It’s on the late night drive home from your girlfriend’s place; it’s when you’re fucked up at a bar; it’s when you used to sneak out of your parents’ house; it’s crying late at night… it’s a late night episode, and we want to make music to be played in every single one of those scenarios.”
Article: Alex Feigin