Sunday night the Rockwood Music Hall in NYC lit up with three stages full of artists across the spectrum. But the highlight of my evening was the up-and-coming band from Brooklyn we have recently featured, The Ludwigs. Playing Stage 1, the quartet came on with a mix of nervous excitement. The venue is small, but I know the people I was with were excited, and the band had their own supporters as well. There were even new fans to be made, which was a great thing to see.
Lead singer Sam Woods started us off with “Heavy Hearts,” a very upbeat song that was perfect to set the mood for the night. It just made you want to dance, even in the chill space that is the Rockwood. But Jae Kim really stole the show on this track, his guitar skills taking over and mesmerizing you, so much so that you almost forgot to pay attention to Sam’s lyrics.
The next song was “Bad Dreams,” which had a courageous, bold vibe to it. The sound was unique and just the feeling emanating from it was different. It seemed to blend right into the red glow of the club.
Then came “Pretenders,” a clear favorite of mine. Woods described it as slow and sad, but oftentimes those are the best songs. They provide the opportunity for real emotion, and Woods certainly laid it on with the heartfelt power of his voice. The song started in what felt a very old-fashioned way, offering a classic, nostalgic tone. But it was Woods’ voice that really took over, and you could see not only his emotion for the song itself, but for music and performing as a whole.
“QLC (Quarter-life Crisis),” the newest release from The Ludwigs, continued the dominance of Woods’ vocals. The singer brought out this Johnny Cash-esque growl that was still so unique and refreshing, especially at a live show. It’s not quite what you picture for The Ludwigs, who I happily like to compare to The 1975, but it works all the same. “QLC” was jumpy and fun to start, and I noted several heads just naturally bobbing along. What was also intriguing was the sense that even though I was unfamiliar with the song, it still felt like I already knew the words. That is definitely a rare experience.
Finally it was time for “Introvert,” the band’s most popular song. It is one of the songs that really brings out The 1975 tones and sensations, in both its musicality and vocals. By this time the band was truly excited, and their friends in the crowd were eating it up. Woods explained later that they usually have a much bigger space, creating more room for movement and enhancing their sound, but I thought they consumed Stage 1 just fine.
To further this notion was their closer, a cover of “No Diggity.” It was definitely a surprise, but a great tactic to get the favorited crowd participation in there. I was surprised they didn’t end with their new track, but the energy from this last song was definitely worth it.
The Ludwigs are playing another show in New York at The Bowery Electric in October, so if you get the chance, definitely head out to support them. In the meantime you can check out their new LP To Be Continued on SoundCloud.