The crowd, decked out in glow bracelets and necklaces, patiently waited through locals Bo and the Locomotive's opening set, bobbing their heads to songs new and old alike. At one point lead singer Bo Bulawsky quipped that they were about to play another new song, "Not that you would know the difference or care" before launching into a song peppered with vibrant, happy notes from the synth pushing away any possible bitterness. The band finished its set with "On My Way," the drummer and guitarist switching instruments.
But the majority of the crowd was there for Philadelphia-based rock 'n' roll outfit Free Energy, who recently self-released their second full-length record, "Love Sign." Some in the crowd (and band) looked like they had walked off the set of some "Dazed and Confused" sequel. But considering the musicians' sound, it wasn't entirely unexpected. When they joked at one point that the next song was going to be a cover of "Freebird." Had they actually played it, only the guitar solo would have sounded out of place in their set.
Free Energy's sound is infectious. From the first notes of "Backscratcher" the crowd was on its feet and moving, and by the time vocalist Paul Sprangers shimmied and sang "I'm alive and the night is young," it was clear the crowd was on the same page; the floor of the room quickly becoming a dance floor.
And with a constant theme of "tonight" and "dancing" in Free Energy's songs, it was fitting that Sprangers enthusiastically noted that "It's a Thursday night dance party in St. Louis. I feel it."
The good feelings never left the room. Even when "Dream City" took a slower, more pensive turn, the mood was quickly brightened up with a peppy chanting of "na na na na" making it easy to forget that the recording contains a saxophone -- it didn't feel like anything was missing.
Following the loud, thumping of "Bang Pop" the band called for '80s high-school dance lights and slowed things down for "Dance All Night." The show ended with a two-song encore of "Young Hearts" and "Dark Trance," the punch of the line "Will you ever have enough?" lingering in the air as the band thanked the audience and walked off stage.
Free Energy set list:
Something in Common
Dance All Night
Girls Want Rock