It’s been eight months since a pandemic-induced lockdown sent live music spontaneously combusting into thin air. It begs the question: are live-streams enough for gig fanatics to relapse in a concert-induced high? Well, COIN’s “Immersive Virtual Performance” on Friday night came pretty close. The alt-rock group served some painstakingly addictive visual effects in its hourlong set—brimming with neon lights, strobes and even a somewhat gimmicky mini trampoline—eager to regain the attention of hungry fans.
The show’s atmosphere first resembled a well-directed documentary; beginning with behind the scenes footage that hauled viewers at home right into the passenger seat of a 2015 COIN tour bus and the band performing sold-out shows in front of hundreds of doting fans. Flash-forward to November 2020, and the Nashville group prepares to take to the stage, or rather, the members’ four socially distanced podiums for this one-off event. Multiple revolving cameras, GoPros on mic stands and ever-changing colorful light show made up for the lack of physicality and allowed viewers to feel like they were one of the roadies on tour with COIN.
Lead singer Chase Lawrence’s voice emerged from the darkness, declaring “Hello from the TV, we’re COIN,” before erupting into mammoth, never-seen-live-before single, “You Are the Traffic.” A little slow to start, the members’ nerves seemed palpable. But the tempo soon picked up in time for the guitar-heavy bridge, on which the band thrashed around the stage in a disorderly fashion.
By the second song, “Into My Arms,” (the opener to 2020’s Dreamland) the band finally embraced this new normal, flaunting exactly what COIN does best: mouth-watering uptempo pop tracks laced with contagious melodies and chugging bass lines. As neon lights danced across all four podiums in all its choreographed glory, guitarist Joe Memmel’s and Lawrence’s sugary-sweet vocals harmonized over sparkling new-wave synth beats. The song built to a triumphant roar by Lawrence as he sang, “Get out my head” while battling it out with near-screeching chords from his synthesizer.
The band performed a handful of tracks from it’s newest LP, as well as 2017’s How Will You Know If You Never Try and standalone singles. Bright and airy track “Growing Pains,” a 2018 single, was a well put-together; a sonically cohesive follow-up despite its slower tempo initially diminishing the energy in the room (or at least on the screen).
“Boyfriend” had bright, chiming guitar riffs and delectable synth chords wrapped up in a shower of mirror-ball lights. The song started like a conceptual music video, with Lawrence lying on the floor among neon lights while pounding percussion and guitar playing awakened the singer into joining his bandmates on the now diagonally arranged podiums, thanks to a masked crew.
COIN slowed things down a notch on pop ballad “Babe Ruth,” which saw the band painted in a monochrome projection of the baseball player’s videos. Things continued in much the same way for “Malibu 1992,” where the members’ impressive live vocal chops were really able to shine through. Behind them an ember sunset cast a romantic shadow. “Make It Stop” was the last of down-tempo songs for the show; a slightly breathless but honest rendition from Lawrence.
“This is weird,” Lawrence said. “But nice.”
Finally, the four podiums connected for their cutesy track “Youuu.” Technically, it was the band’s first time performing as a united front on one stage since March. They smiled as they launched into signature single “Talk Too Much.” At this point, if there were fans present, they’d all be jumping up in unison, screaming the lyrics obnoxiously loud. But nonetheless, the band gave it a good go.
COIN finished the set with newer uptempo Afro-pop fusion single “I Feel Alive.” The falsetto lead vocal line was perhaps a little too high for Lawrence, but COIN was taking fans forward to a time where “We’re OK.”
And then it was over. The members jumped off stage, the end credits rolled and production staff immediately dismantled the set, letting us know there would be no encores.
Follow writer Gabriella Ferlita at Twitter.com/Gabriellaf_17.