It isn’t often you get to hear dirty pop rock at an exceptionally posh Manhattan hot spot, but Slam Donahue's Wednesday night performance at Soho House melded the two seemingly disparate worlds. The band previewed a number of songs off their upcoming EP, Hemlock Tea. The timing couldn’t have been better: earlier that day they had scored a song preview on MTV Hive. It would be easy to chalk up the band's recent spate of good press to the fact that multi-talented Ayad Al Adhamy(Passion Pit, Team Spirit) produced their upcoming release, but it wouldn’t really be fair. These boys have spark and spunk.
The set opened with “Where Were We on the Weekend,” an absurdly catchy jam that had the small audience of friends and fans bobbing their heads. Not all of the rooftop patrons, however, were as pleased, and a few minutes into the first number a small herd of monied gents and ladies pushed their way past the band and hurried to the door. While that might have rattled some lesser performers–especially in such a small space–the boys didn’t miss a beat.
As the set continued, it was impossible not to be reminded of MGMT and even Nirvana, two bands that handily combine a pop sensibility with a more traditional rock edge. The difference is that Slam Donahue has genuine, heart-felt grit, which was perfectly illustrated during the final two numbers, “I Turn On” and “It’s Scary.” The songs were danceable and well constructed, but the introspective lyrics and David Otto’s pained, nasally vocals gave them a shot of melancholy that made you think twice about what you had just heard. The was evening fun and never felt superficial or phony–a true feat in a setting that is so much about the newest, latest, and most fashionable. Hipsters with heart? Looks like they do exist. They’re making great music too.