Live Reviews: Strange Hotels

Harvard and Stone  Hollywood

Contact: [email protected]

Web: strangehotelsband.com

Players: Nick Sadler, drums, percussion, synthesizer, vocals; Ben Braden, keyboard, guitar, bass, percussion, vocals

Material: Celebrating the release of their latest single, “Teen Dream Fantasy” (produced in collaboration with Gordon Raphael of The Strokes fame), Strange Hotels delivered their trademark party vibe with a seven-song set of electronic pop. Their tracks drew from various musical influences and the show opened with crowd-pumping “Ring Ring,” followed up with the ZZ Top drum feel pulse of “Changes.” By the third song of the night––“Jackknife”––the group had added an ethereal trance, with fabulous vocal harmonies and a Genesis-esque transition to full tribal dance beats that included a Daft Punk drive. 

Musicianship: Clearly committed to their artistry, captivating showmanship, and top-notch sound production, Ben Braden and Nick Sadler combined a plethora of preamp and synth sounds alongside skillful drum, guitar, bass, keyboard and percussion playing. Their live bongo, drum and guitar loops decorated with great vocal lines and melodies (especially on “Ambient Dreams”) created a unique blend of EDM / party rock music, while “3 Floor Walk Up” unveiled a slow synth grinding R&B bedroom jam with intermittent nods to Pink Floyd. The musicians created an immense amount of sound and it was easy to forget that there are only two of them on the stage.

Performance: Opening to a buzzing crowd of all ages, cultures and persuasions––in an eclectic industrial atmosphere complete with burlesque dancers, smoke machines and incense - the barefoot duo delivered an energetic set of live and synthesized dance sound and know how to keep their audience engaged. Their continuous energetic, driven show resulted in a bumper-to-bumper dance floor as they performed to a packed house of diverse, die-hard hipster fans.

Summary: Strange Hotels’ sound is extremely versatile, with the performance itself offering unmatched continuity for a nonstop bash. Combining live instrumentation and synthesized loops, Braden and Sadler offer a unified expression of sound and deliver the ultimate party grooves. From the thumping bass, dancefloor-mosh-inspiring latest release, “Teen Dream Fantasy” to the electro pop retro dance feel of “Kick Bounce” (think: New Order), these two are baddass groovesters.