Barely Blind at Walters, 12/26/2013
When Barely Blind announced they would be relocating to Los Angeles two years ago, it was hard to watch them leave. Thankfully, the holidays gave the band reason to return to Houston, and we were fortunate enough to catch their electrifying set at Walters on Thursday night.
To those who have heard of Barely Blind, the band is one of Houston's older acts, known for playing shows all over the area in an attempt to build a name for themselves. In reality, the group was actually formed in Groves, a small town just outside of Beaumont, by vocalist and guitarist Brad Cuccio, bassist Reid Guidry, and drummer Will Smith.
But despite their relocation to the City of Angels, Barely Blind seem to hold true to the roots they planted here in Texas. Thursday, a change in address did not prevent the group from drawing a sizable crowd for their first Houston gig in more than a year.
A little before midnight, the group opened their set with a subdued version of "Inner Child," the third single off of their first full-length album, Wilder Child of a Thousand Suns. It's the same song that got them recognition from MTV, where they were featured as "Fresh New Music" in August 2012.
In a live setting, Barely Blind translates with as much energy and conviction as they present on their recordings, and it's a passion not often seen.
Where other bands often come off as though they're performing for the status and bragging rights that come with being a musician, Barely Blind stand on a stage as a unique brand. It's the kind of talent and dedication that a band requires to jump out of the safety net of home.
But their talent isn't in question.
Despite a minor issue with the kick-drum mike, the group was so in tune with one another during "Purgatory Creek" that fans didn't even seem phased by the issue. As they moved on to "Wilder Child" and their most recent single, "Golden Child," the group sounded refined in a way that can only come with time and growth.
But then, growth is what Barely Blind does best.
The band celebrated their ten year anniversary this year, and have been recording a follow-up to their freshman album with producer and Rilo Kiley alumni, Pierre de Reeder. And though that's a feat in and of itself, it's just another step towards success.
The quartet (guitarist Stephan Salisbury joined in 2009) have performed on Vans Warped Tour, were on Billboard's Heat Seekers for five weeks after releasing their EP, My Life With a Giant, and were recently voted to the No. 1 spot on Los Angeles' "KROQ Locals Only" show ahead of acts like Johnathan Rice and Hellogoodbye.
But instead of digging through their discography, Barely Blind stretched their creative legs with two new tracks, "Recovery" and "All the Time It Takes," and proved that even California's signature weather was no match for the group. But while the band was once walking the thin line towards creating the next biggest pop-punk album, it seems that they've matured and settled into their sound.
Instead of emulating their favorites, the quartet's new tracks proved that they're able to pull inspiration and combine it with their penchant for writing catchy pop, punk and rock tracks. It doesn't hurt that they've got an ear for melody and lighthearted song structure either.
As the group wrapped up a quick set with "Silver Lake" and an instrumental outro, it was hard to look at the group and not recognize how far Barely Blind has come in the past ten years. And though they did it entirely on their own, it's hard not to feel pride knowing they're from our own backyard.
Review continues on the next page.