LA Zoo Los Angeles, CA
The Players: Tyler Demorest, vocals, guitar, keyboards; Matt Cohen, bass; Danny Schnair, guitar; and Jake Reed, drums.
Material: Harnessing a refreshing sound is no easy task, but KIVEN has done just that. The band grooves through upbeat, effect-filled verses and crushes strong, ball-breaking choruses that make you want to rage. Tight breakdowns, which seem influenced by progressive rock, add complexity to the already well-structured songs. While the backdrop is painted with crunchy guitar tones and hard-hitting beats, Demorest’s clean vocals starkly contrast and complement the music.
The powerful build-ups and dynamic changes can be attributed to the band’s songwriting ability. Although the band has a well-rehearsed songbook, the recorded material could be beefier, as is the tracks possess too much empty space.
Musicianship: Demorest holds down his rhythm guitar and keyboard parts while singing with bravado. He often strains to hit the higher notes, but compensates with his gentle, refined falsetto. Cohen harmonizes beautifully with Demorest and has impeccable bass tone. Cohen could up his volume, though, to gel better with Reed’s heavy handed grooves. Reed, while offering great right hand ostinatos, could hit more assertively on his fills. Although Schnair confidently strums his axe, his solos are sometimes sloppy and notes get muddled in his distortion heavy tone.
Performance: KIVEN began the show with a crunchy groove, establishing a raw, intrusive attitude that carried throughout the set. Members interacted on stage and engaged the head-nodding audience. Cohen tastefully laid down the opening lick of “In the Fire” and fellow bandmembers joined in to steamroll through big choruses and up-tempo verses. After a few songs, though, Schnair’s overwhelming distortion became obtrusive and created an imbalance in the mix.
Live versions of “Living for the Alarm” and “Stasis” packed a visceral element that the recorded material lacks, and the band should aspire to incorporate more of that cathartic energy. Demorest had the audience firm in his grasp by the sensual, calm “Come and Go” and didn’t release until the roaring climax of “Canyon Bridge.” The final songs left the audience wanting more.
Summary: KIVEN possesses the attitude and musicianship to contend with the bigger names in rock. Some vocal polishing, simpler effects, and adding a primal element to the music will enhance the already well-composed material.
– Vincent Stevens