It’s been very quiet from the American Hi-Fi camp over the last few years. Nevermind that the band haven’t played a show in the UK since sharing a stage with Bowling For Soup in 2005, it’s been over 3 years since they played a show anywhere. Most of the inactivity can be attributed to lead vocalist, guitarist songwriter Stacy Jones leading another life as musical director for global superstar Miley Cyrus, as well as playing drums in her touring band alongside bandmate, guitarist Jamie Arentzen. A gap in Cyrus‘ UK leg of the ‘Bangerz’ tour allows American Hi-Fi to squeeze in a very special one-off show at the prestigious The 100 Club.
Sykes (**) take to the stage first tonight, but their relaxed alternative indie-pop sound seems slightly out of place and they fail to gain the interest of the half full room. The Tegan & Sara influenced ‘Out Of Your Hands’ and ‘Same Road’ would surely go down well in the right company, but the disinterest from this crowd is clear and even a charming sing-a-long finale isn’t enough to turn them.
Essex pop-punks The Hype Theory (**) are much more relevant to proceedings, but their over enthusiasm somewhat alienates the crowd and they remain reluctant to accept the warm up acts, even after the promise of free t-shirts. ‘Reverie’ doesn’t hold the same presence as it does on 2013’s ‘Captives’, but ‘Blood’ sounds far better as their pop-punk melodies finally land with some conviction. Vocalist Katy Jackson leads a chorus of “woah”s for the indifferent ‘Heartsick’, and finally gets some help from The 100 Club which is starting to push to full capacity.
The excitement around the room is clear as the band walk out; sure enough most people here have never seen American Hi-Fi (****) before and probably never thought they would. Yet, they have stumbled into a perfectly intimate setting with a friendly atmosphere to hear the band play through past singles, fan favourites and brand new tracks. ‘Surround’ and ‘Scar’ from their self-titled effort ease them into the set, but the drum intro to ‘The Break Up Song’ finally kicks off the evening as the words “They don’t know who you are” are shouted louder than Stacy Jones can sing them.
There’s no doubt that the guys are rusty, occasionally having a crack at the start to a song more than once, but it just adds to the fan-friendly feel to the show and, although the cobwebs were dusted off for this set list specifically, they’re happy to take randomly shouted requests from the crowd. The killer ‘Beautiful Disaster’ and even an attempt at a first ever live performance of ‘Black Satellite’ come from fan shout-outs, but they manage to turn down heckles of “Wrecking Ball” to the assumed delight of the onlooking Miley.
The debut of new songs ‘Allison’ and ‘Golden State’ are good news for the future of American Hi-Fi, but it’s the enthusiasm of the crowd during ‘The Art Of Losing’ and ‘Another Perfect Day’ that trigger the band to promise a return to London soon. Big single ‘Flavor Of The Weak’ is no doubt the highlight of the set, with Jones allowing the band to sing the last chorus for him, and a heavier finale of ‘Vertigo’ and ‘Happy’ is a great end to the show. Hopefully this is just the beginning of the return of American Hi-Fi.
Written by Michael Heath