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Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009

Headlights @ The Bay View Brew Haus

Dec. 11, 2009

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Since Headlights released its sophomore album Some Racing, Some Stopping in early 2008, there has been little to no stopping for the Champaign, Ill.-based indie band. In the year-plus that followed Some Racing’s release, the band parted ways with guitarist John Owen, had its music featured on a CNN ad, toured extensively and found time to release two albums.

The busy band came to Bay View Brew Haus last Friday to support its latest full-length, Wildlife, and make its second-to-last tour stop before taking a well-deserved rest. But if Headlights was worn down, it didn’t show in the group’s energetic 45-minute set.

The Polyvinyl Records band took the stage following a solid surprise opening performance by the electro-pop outfit Pretty Good Dance Moves, a short The Friendly Lens set wrought in blaring church organs, and The Celebrated Workingman’s infusion of up-tempo rock ’n’ roll and creative megaphone usage.

Headlights illuminated the dim Brew Haus with 11 songs that touched on each of the band’s previous albums. They got the show rolling with “Get Yer Head Around It,” which found the solitary guitar and vocal intro of Tristan Wraight evolving into a bustling hymn of drum rolls and three-part harmonies.

Despite the fact that nearly half the set hinged on the downtrodden and brooding Wildlife, Headlights seemed to hold the interest of the modest-sized crowd for the show’s entirety with a smiling execution of the set list. Erin Fein’s beautiful, soothing voice and dazzling keyboard work didn’t hurt either. Nick Sanborn, also of Milwaukee’s Decibully, applied an extra coat of energy and depth with his walking bass lines and warm harmonies.

Onlookers paired off to dance near the stage throughout the show, especially during “Cherry Tulips.”

In all, Headlights took a show that could easily have been a sulking reiteration of its newest album and instead pieced together an entertaining monument to a band that has been continually growing and seldom slowing since its 2004 formation.

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Photos by Matt Schwenke