Material: Will Alton and Steven Blake are a pair of musically inclined brothers at the forefront of a rock band. That’s a tried and true formula that Animal Sun has used to capture the essence of their live shows in a series of recordings that were helmed by their Grammy-winning producer, Robert Margouleff, and his partner Aaron Zepeda. That premise became more apparent when this sibling duo from Charlottesville, VA published “Girl in Blue,” a colorful pop-rock composition that differs from the acoustic rock elements of a song they wrote called “Explode.” The band’s recently released EP (Beginnings) is a spectrum of alternative rock that highlights several of their musical influences.
Musicianship: Steven Blake writes emotional love songs that seem to connect with concertgoers of the college-aged demographic. Hence, Animal Sun’s rise through the ranks of Central Virginia’s music scene is likely a testament to the band's penchant for performing live and a nod to the sentimental value of their content. The band’s live rendition of “Homesick” presents that notion well. Blake’s vocal register emits a sound that is similar to the tonality of Jesse Rutherford from The Neighbourhood. The rhythms and drumming techniques of his younger brother, Will Alton, serve as a fitting backdrop for Blake’s guitar playing.
Performance: Animal Sun performed eight songs in a stripped-down setting at Genghis Cohen, playing the entire set without a keyboardist. That was an important factor because the synthesizer has become a crucial part of songs like “Soul on Fire.” So when they performed this track live, it actually resonated more like an indie-folk song. Nevertheless, that change was a good display of just how dynamic the duo are as musicians. The brothers, Will Alton and Steven Blake, were joined on stage by bassist Bryan Dawson. The intimacy of this small venue made it easy for the viewers to focus on the band’s synergy and their ability to engage the audience members in a personable dialogue.
Summary: The small confines of this venue gave the crowd an up-close and personal look into the passion behind Steven Blake’s touching stage presence. It also emphasized the importance of Will Alton’s drum fills in every song. Animal Sun created their namesake as a tribute to a childhood friend who passed away. The band was built upon depth and meaning. And that is exactly what their live show delivered.
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Players: Steven Blake, vocals, guitar; Will Alton, drums, vocals; Bryan Dawson, bass guitar