Headlights hail from Champagne, Illinois, a little bit of middle-America-nowhere (“We didn’t even get a Sufjan song,” laments the bassist) that seems just open and airy enough to foster some excellently open and airy music. The just-released third album, Some Racing, Some Stopping, was recorded in a barn somewhere, and plays like the best day of your 5th grade summer vacation.
First up at Mercury Lounge was the Evangelicals, a spooky poppy band not beneath slathering all their gear with glo paint and breaking out the blacklights. The highlight of this show occurred when the lead singer jumped onto the kick drum and steadied himself against the ceiling. He wasn’t steady enough though, and he face-planted back onto the stage, knocking the mic stand into the audience and flipping on the floodlights. He finished the song from the bassist’s microphone.
Headlights came on and played only songs off the new album, easing into a steady, pleasant groove.
Singer and keyboardist Erin Fein had to warm herself into her voice, her first few attempts sounding slightly breathy and sparse. By the time they went into the first single off Some Racing, “Cherry Tulips”, she had regained some of her signature sound, though I wonder if this is the reason her voice, which is frequently the album’s saving grace, isn’t featured as often as it could.
The band played a short set followed by an audience-demanded encore. They played two more songs, which, they confessed, happened to be the only two more songs they knew how to play. Ah, encores are only worth it when the band is completely unprepared for them.