We The Beat’s latest SOhO show with FMLYBND is another success for Santa Barbara’s music scene

Last Friday, Feb. 21, headliner FMLYBND and opening band Givers & Takers played a memorable show downtown at SOhO, marking the third sold-out event in a row for local music promotion company, We the Beat. After the huge sell-out success of Giraffage, a show put on with Speak Volumes in January, We the Beat founder Kirk Reed, aimed his attention to create a venue for local bands this time around.

Reed’s outlook is optimistic toward the young Santa Barbara community’s enthusiasm for local artists, especially with the increased interest in live electronic music that has been cropping up recently.

“Everyone wants to support their friends and neighbors, and there were really good vibes at the show,” said Reed in regard to last Friday’s performance. Though this last show was totally local, in general We The Beat aims to work with local artists even with headliners from out of town, giving out opportunities for opening slots as much as possible.

The memorable headliner, FMLYBND has gone only upward since their debut in 2012, and has been compared to M83 and even Arcade Fire. Inspiration for the recent album Far Away came from Simple Minds, New Order and a hybrid French electronic lo-fi sound, according to lead vocalist Mac Montgomery in an interview with Impose Magazine circa July 2013.

On the band’s Facebook page appears the description: “We’re a six-piece band from the slum beach paradise of Isla Vista, CA.” Lead vocalists and original band members Mac and Braelyn Montgomery are well known in the Isla Vista community, and have created an image full of positive energy since starting the band in 2012. From the first show onward, as FMLYBND grew from two to six members and from a few synths to many, a dedicated following has gathered around them.

“This was a personal show,” said Reed, a friend of FMLYBND. Reed had attended a show at Velvet Jones last November and said that the disappointing attendance of what was perhaps an under-marketed show caused him to take it upon himself to draw a larger crowd for them at SOhO. He called it, “the crowd they deserve.”

The bar and patio were empty as people crowded into the main dance area for the majority of the FMLYBND set. The ‘electricity’ created on stage was immediate and infectious, running down connective circuitry from band to crowd. Their energy — collective with a passionate, adoring crowd built throughout the set — ended in drummer Ethan Davis hanging from the rafters.

FMLYBND and their ‘synth-grunge’ electric waves were met with excited fans, including newer listeners who attended out of trust for the We The Beat brand to put on a good show. Givers & Takers, who originated locally, also enjoyed a full house as the openers, while faithful groupies mingled with first-timers.

Since We The Beat started, every artist that comes through seems to say the same thing: “I didn’t know I had so many fans in Santa Barbara,” to which talent buyer Reed replies, “You didn’t, but now you do after We The Beat.” Artists enjoy the atmosphere at We The Beat/SOhO shows, and can bask in the glow of a fun, supportive crowd each time.

Fans of We The Beat are also quickly learning that they now have to compete with rapidly growing numbers maxing out ticket sales.

“I’m beginning to realize I need to get my ticket earlier for these shows!” remarked a hopeful standby at the sold-out Giraffage show in January. FMLYBND told Reed that this was their first ever sold-out headlining show.

“It’s a great accomplishment, especially in their home town,” says Reed of FMLYBND. “It gives them energy to get back on the road knowing their home town is behind them.”

There is something to be said about the types of people who inhabit the space at these shows. The music promotion company targets a mature audience, though the shows are 18+. They don’t necessarily have the ‘under-21’ feel that some venues tend to have, especially when the talent has originated in a college town. Overall, because of the crowd that usually gathers at these events and the atmosphere at SOhO, the coexistence of drinking age and underage attendees is seamless, and everyone appears to be satisfied with the venue.

Expect more exiting shows styled with the scene’s up-and-coming edge from We The Beat.

“We don’t book the biggest names out there, but we know how to put on a good event,” said Reed. It is true that, because of the quality of the events, artists are given a great expository platform and locals are led to tasteful musical discovery.

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Photos courtesy of DNA Imagery and Kirk Reed.

A version of this story appeared on page 8 of Thursday, February 27, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.