I’ve never heard of Family of the Year before this week, even though they hail from L.A., but they’ve quickly grown on me. FOTY is comprised of a core of four members that appear on the album – Joe Keefe on vocals and guitar, James Buckey on guitar, Sebastian Keefe on drums, Christina Schroeter on vocals and keys, and are also joined by touring bassist Alex Walker to round out the act. FOTY injects their own brand of Americana into a growing company of folk-rockers that include The Lumineers, Grouplove, Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetics, and many others. Thanks to Spotify (every music lover should have this, by the way) I was able to listen to their new album “Loma Vista” (Nettwerk Records) half a dozen times in preparation for this review, and while very good for a studio album I must say the live performance blows the album away. From the opening song to the last, I was hooked.
Just because either Joe or Buckey was playing an acoustic guitar in every song in the set doesn’t mean they didn’t rock hard. The band came out firing with “Buried,” letting the acoustic guitar ring out over the multilayered vocals. The positive vibe and danceable tunes encouraged everyone listening to clap along to the chorus. All members of the band were having a great time playing their music, and I think that helped the audience get into the music even if they couldn’t sing along. The song of the night would have to be “Diversity”. The hard strumming chorus and whoaaa-oooaa-oooahs make it next to impossible not to move your legs.
You can’t say FOTY doesn’t like to connect with their fans. FOTY is already getting a decent amount of nods from national media, but they still get in the trenches and campaign like they’re running for office. The only thing I can really think of that I could critique, is that they stopped between almost every song to give shout outs to the audience. If the purpose was to fire up the crowd for the main act, their mission was accomplished. But the stop-and-go performance prevented the energy from really building throughout the set. Each song had to stand on its own merits without the songs preceding or following it to fire up the crowd. That meant a lot of standing time between songs. But it’s all in support of getting their name out. They had just come from a free show at M Theory Music downtown, and were in the crowd or at the merch table for the rest of the night chatting with fans and signing posters and CDs. On top of that they were “selling” their new album for a pay-what-you-can donation. These are people that love what they do and show their appreciation for the fans that support them. This is a good band that plays the part of the local. Overall they played a positive and enjoyable show that has mass-appeal, something that everyone could get into. Don’t be surprised when you hear this group on the next movie soundtrack or at your local Starbucks.
Closing thoughts: If you have the chance to go to this concert, get there early. This is a band that you do not want to miss.
Living on Love
In the End