Material: One High Five present material that yearns for identity. Within 40 minutes, the music takes a journey through several concepts, each one requiring development to reach independence. Self-described as “punk rock,” this is fitting for most of the set, including songs “The Ol’ Switcheroo” and “Fully Operational.” The energy is undeniable, but melody and hook are hard to find. The music takes unexpected turns, though, in the rock-drama ballad à la David Bowie or Queen “Crash the Party.” “1,000 Miles Per Hour” has hints of Phish with an emphasis on the drama of storytelling. These concepts are enough to build a “sound,” but require fine-tuning to develop a singular vision.
Musicianship: The players show great potential. There are moments where everything “clicks,” and one can see something special happen. Particularly exciting are bass player Stephenitch and guitarist Grey, both taking appropriate moments to shine.
Frontman and concept-driver Sauer has a great deal of heart and imagination, but can grow as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist. His keyboard parts are simple and fitting, but at times pull his focus from often fast-moving lyrics, few of which can be understood. Where melody is present, pitch has a tendency to suffer. Some focus on clarity and pitch will help Sauer reach the next level.
Mancini is a solid guitarist, but falls short with regard to precision on harmonies. Drummer Traska also shows signs of brilliance, but takes a few songs to get comfortable and meld with the rest of the band.
Performance: This group created a happy party the entire night. It’s hard not to like them. The concept, the creativity, the fact that they wanted people to “High Five” all the time—these things established a positive and loving environment. The atmosphere of The Prospector—a cozy, dark, unassuming venue where the stage is one foot off the floor—helped this band have a good time with friends. Throughout the night, the line between band and audience was difficult to identify. As a whole, especially with the loveable and fun personality of Sauer, there is a perfect foundation to build upon as the band find its style and identity to take on larger stages.
Summary: If ambition, marketing and good intentions are enough, One High Five will surely keep rising. The speed of the ascent will be aided by a honing of songwriting and better grasp on the identity of music as well as growth as musicians. For those who want to smile and not take life too seriously, this is a group to enjoy.
The Players: David Sauer, vocals, keys; Kyle Traska, drums; Jason Gray, guitar; Adam Smith, guitar; Danielle Lehman, bass.
Venue: The Prospector
City: Long Beach, CA
– Tim Reid, Jr.