Material: There’s an edginess to the indie and surf-rock sounds of Water District. Delayed guitar riffs, echoing over upbeat verses, emote with lyrics about love and solitude. The band’s song composition and Griffin’s whiny vocals fit the sound, and it is evident they’re heavily influenced by the Silversun Pickups. Their most notable and well-composed song, “Dear California,” has ambient Golden State vibes with a gritty, underground indie backbone that gives the song its girth. While the material is solid, Griffin should vary his vocal patterns and sound to distinguish himself from Brian Aubert.
Musicianship: Griffin is a passionate frontman and attacks his melodies with purpose. His rhythm guitar playing solidifies the tempo, and he should apply that same confidence to his piano playing. Gurney’s bass lines are subdued, which allow the guitar heavy material to shine. Awasthi’s drumming could be stronger—while some of the material demands hammered out beats, mild playing with absence of a heavy kick drum doesn’t bring the songs home. Mueller has perfected creating ethereal sounds that add a spacey, almost stony element to the material. His solos, however, are often lacking intention and fluidity.
Performance: The band aimed to please, but just missed the mark. The apex of the set happened in the middle during “Dear California” and “Comedown”—these would have hit harder toward the end. Unfortunately, Gurney’s bass sounded like it was blowing out the low wattage bass amp. Awasthi played timidly until “Dear California,” where he finally hit his stride.
Despite sound issues, Griffin was an entertaining ringleader, constantly engaging with band and audience. Showmanship is crucial, but he has to work harder to ensure his melodies don’t waver off pitch, which they often did. Mueller and Griffin had moments where they traded off licks and played harmonized parts, which captivated the audience. They should strive for more moments like that.
Summary: Water District has a unique sound, but needs to better translate the full-bodied, recorded material to live shows. Because the band has a desirable sound for indie rock enthusiasts, performances must elevate listeners and be on par with the talented songwriting.
The Players: Tice Griffin, guitar, piano, lead vocals; Zack Mueller, guitar, backing vocals; Hunter Gurney, bass; AJ Awasthi, drums.
Venue: Silverlake Lounge
City: Los Angeles, CA
Photo by Vincent Stevens