Mild High Club, an indie band known for their dreamy blend of psychedelia and jazz, performed at San Diego’s Observatory last Wednesday. Most known for their indie pop hits “Homage” and “Tessellation” off of their 2016 album “Skiptracing” , the band is the solo project of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Brettin who performs with a changing lineup of touring musicians. Alex is an LA based musician from Chicago who has been making music since 2012. The show featured a 6 piece band consisting of a bassist, drummer, rhythm guitarist, and two keyboardists joining Alex on stage. As a longtime fan of “Skiptracing”, I was excited to see the band and curious to see how their lush music translated to the live stage. To achieve their laidback, atmospheric sound, their music is often extremely layered and rich with a mix of reverb soaked vocals and blends of all sorts of jazz instruments.
Mild High Club has attracted a loyal fanbase that created one of the more laidback yet engaging audiences of any concerts I’ve been to. By the time the opening act had finished his set, the Observatory was at full house capacity. It was an all ages show and the crowd seemed to reflect that with people of varying ages. Their wide appeal of the different genres they take inspiration from brought together a broad mix of people. The smooth psychedelic nature of their music attracted a lot of people, young and old, that I’d classify as having a hippie vibe. It generally wasn’t too pushy of a crowd, and I was able to make it to the front in part thanks to the kindness of a random girl who liked my outfit. The crowd was extremely interactive, and when they performed “Homage” most of the crowd began singing along.
The entire performance was amazing. The band members had such a unique chemistry that made for a great experience. The mellow psychedelic guitar riffs and groovy bass lines sounded as crisp and clean as they did on their recorded songs that I’ve heard. Alex Brettin’s smooth jazz night-clubesque live vocals were also impressive, as was his incorporation of guitars, tabletop keyboards, and percussion instruments throughout the show. And being heavily jazz influenced, they dedicated large portions of their performance to improvisation. All the instrumentalists got a chance to have their spotlight, and they were all incredibly talented. They also at times provided backing vocals that harmonized with Alex, which sounded beautiful with the acoustics in The Observatory. I was particularly blown away by the two keyboardists’ complex solos and beautiful harmonies. Many of the band was also multi-talented, switching instruments at times.
I discovered new music through tracks of theirs I hadn’t heard. Their 2021 release was just as good, if not better than Skiptracing. I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the opener, indie artist J.W. Francis. His laidback energy and fun indie surf rock sound definitely set the stage for the great concert that followed.
Overall, it was a great show and I’m happy I got to go.