Imagine a world far removed from Santa Barbara’s idyllic, warm-all-year weather, a world where buildings tower overhead, traffic jams last for hours, and winter means snow — lots of it. Such is the world of Tanlines, the Brooklyn-based duo with the penchant for tropicalia-inspired beats and ear-wormy synth hooks. In watching bandmates Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen onstage Tuesday night at Velvet Jones, Tanlines’ inherent dichotomy started to make sense.
Both Emm and Cohen radiate Brooklyn cool, all stubbled chins, denim jackets, and black-on-black attire. But in between songs, Cohen let his true colors show. “We spent the day driving up the coast from L.A.,” he beamed to the Santa Barbara audience, “and it was one of the best days of my life.” In fact, throughout Tuesday night’s set, Emm guffawed at the beauty, the excitement, and the “vibe” he felt surrounding the band’s Santa Barbara debut, which was filled with punchy, thumping cuts off Tanlines’ recent LP, Mixed Emotions.
Among the highlights, the duo’s live renditions of “Brothers” and “Real Life” were especially energetic, mixing Cohen’s live percussion, loops, and steel-drum–channeling electronic flourishes with Emm’s deep, almost chant-like cries. The giddy audience also got a smattering of instrumental tracks, which pulsated through Velvet’s grungy space and got the crowd moving. That these two concrete jungle dwellers can so gracefully capture the spirit of an Ibiza nightclub is both impressive and indicative of Tuesday’s dance party; simply put, this is a band that looks, feels, and sounds like a Southern California summer.