Vacationer, comprising Kenny Vasoli, Ryan Zimmaro, Michael Mullin, Greg Altman, and their producers, Matthew Young and Grant Wheeler, brought a frill free, though colorful, performance to Lincoln Hall Thursday. The band followed opening band Sego, a fast Los Angeles group, presenting to this Midwest city the raw, care-free momentum of sun and palm trees.
Spencer Peterson fronts Sego with a raw, devil-may-care attitude in his vocals. While Peterson didn’t initially plan on doing the singing himself, he ironically landed in the role, in spite of it being his last resort (RollCallRecords.com). What’s even more surprising is Peterson’s prowess on stage in delivering apathy.
He and bandmate Thomas Carroll don’t originate from California; they present a beautiful combination of Pennsylvanian and Californian personality. On one hand, “Whatever Forever” laments the urgency for something, while on the other, anxiety has a way for slowing down that process, or falling from a peak.
Sego offered a masterful set-up for Vacationer, fronted by Vasoli, who spoke of changing genres early in his musical career, in part due to his vocal range. He told “A Music Blog, Yea?” that his hope originally was to form a grunge rock band, but that the hope was limited due to vocal stress.
The band incorporated Polynesian sounds into the music of Vacationer, an element brought by Young, resulting in a tropical theme that spans three albums. Relaxation, exploration and love are themes Vasoli has said he wants to maintain as a throughline in the music of Vacationer, and he succeeds, given the universal quality of those themes. He told “AMBY” that his wish is for the band’s audiences to experience them in their own ways.
Perhaps that’s why in the middle of May, just before my birthday plans of visiting my sister in Los Angeles, these songs resonated with me so well.
Additionally, Vasoli, Zimmaro and the gang don’t require any particular choices in stage fashion. The band doesn’t parade itself in immaculate lighting and dress; it lets the music speak for itself, much like The Bones of J.R. Jones or Future Islands, for example. However, even in the presence of colorful tones from the xylophone, guitar and bass, lack of lighting can lead an audience to scatter its attention. Songs that sound similarly beautiful can start to muffle together.
Vacationer introduced Mindset (2018) by performing tracks like “Magnetism” and “Strawberry Blonde.”
But the tropical quality of Vacationer’s music, paired with literal, verbal references to paradise remind Vacationer’s audiences that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, a “paradise waiting for us in Summertime.”