The Ocean Blue, The Troubadour, September 9, 2014
The famous West Hollywood venue was filling in for second support band Western Lows as the trio started out quiet and midtempo, their gazy style soon picked up tempo and distortion ending their short set to guitar squalls and glorious applause.
Perhaps as a joke to the Hershey, Pennsylvania band, Nirvana blared over the speakers as the members set up their equipment. The Ocean Blue was an antidote to all the distorted guitar angst of the “grunge” bands. They started out their set with Mercury, one of their peppier numbers from second album Cerulean, singer/guitarist David Schelzel and bassist Bobby Mittan still boyish after all these years. Their first two albums were written and released while the members were still teens and it is on the edge of the loss of innocence that some of their best music rests. The band followed up with the more muscular Sad Night, Where Is The Morning? from their 2013 comeback album Ultramarine and it was evident that the band still has the fire and melodic sense to write thrilling and catchy tunes. Shelzel prepared the audience to hear some new tunes, that it wasn’t going to be a nostalgia tour, yet their music is so timeless, decades of music blended into an exciting flashback and forward to good times throughout our lives, The Ocean Blue our soundtrack.
The title track to their second album Cerulean came next, Shelzel’s ethereal vocals were well grounded by Mittan’s muscular bass playing. From the new Waterworks re-release the band broke out previously unreleased Can’t Let Go, a song that echoes 80’s British bands pre-Brit-Pop with well-paced vocals that channeled JAMC’s Jim Reid and Ian Curtis for thrilling effect. Released on the original Waterworks, the lush Pedestrian had a shuffling beat and dramatic and jangly guitar work from Oed Ronne.
Sublime on album is one thing, but live, Mittan and Anderson’s rhythm section really boost the energy of the song, Shelzel’s lilting vocals took us on flights of fancy, the audience singing along “sub-bu-bu-buliiime”. On Vanity Fair, from their S/T debut the boys took the song from twee to raveup with the tempo winding up, Mittan and Anderson looking at each other to see how fast they could get. On Give it A Try the band once again displays power and focus and Mittan’s slinky bass rhythm smoldered while Ronne’s guitars sizzled and sparked.
After the double whammy of Ballerina Out of Control and Between Something and Nothing, The Ocean Blue presented us with a previously unreleased song that Shelzel wrote in high school. The band originally recorded it for the movie Naked In New York but the song was cut. Now fans can find it on the Waterworks reissue. City Traffic sounds like the singer was listening to a whole lot of Peter Weller as a teen. The breezy and fun song kept the audience moving even as some were leaving the venue. The Ocean Blue finished the night with a rough version of The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, Shelzel inviting the audience to sing along. We didn’t dissapoint, raising the song to a celebration of the power of music.
The Ocean Blue in 2014 look and sound like they’re doing it for all the right reasons, without outside stress, releasing their music on their own. The sold out Troubadour proved that the boys still have much to offer from their past accomplishments as well as their future endeavors. I’ll be at their next L.A. show!
(Review by Bret Miller – Photos by Jack Lue)