The Midnight are among the most celebrated duo in the modern genre of synthwave, a new electronic music subgenre. Their four albums, Days of Thunder, Endless Summer, Nocturnal, and Kids have garnered near universal praise for the fusion of incredible synth lines with heartfelt lyrics. On Thursday night at the House of Blues, the entire crowd moved to the awesome power of this dynamic duo.
The Midnight is comprised of musicians Tim McEwan, who composes the instrumentation for each track, and Tyler Lyle, the lyricist and vocalist for the band. The two have worked together since 2012, when they met each other at a joint music writing session. Tyler, a native of the so-termed “Deep South,” writes lyrics that help transport listeners to a simpler time without modern distractions. Nowhere is this more evident than in the group’s latest album Kids. With lyrics like “And we stole the car on the 4th of July/ I pawned my guitar, and we drove through the night/ I’ve come, to look for America 2.”, one can feel the wind in their hair and goosebumps on their skin as they drive down a darkened highway.
The band Automatic Weapons opened, with the standout song being “Pistol”. Their sound was a little more rock-tinged than The Midnight, but still agreeable for the audience they played to. Their set was around 45 minutes or so. Before The Midnight went on, I was up in front of the barricades on the floor, watching the set-up process. It was quite involved and necessitated several people to help wire and then check that the band’s instruments worked.
The Midnight began their set with the first song from the new album Kids, called “Youth”; as a part of the track, there is a clip of Carl Sagan discussing the Pale Blue Dot, a photograph of Earth taken by the Voyager spacecraft as they left the solar system. The track seemed to be a harbinger of the journey planned to take the audience on. The band stormed the stage with the opening chords of the next song “Youth”, also from Kids. The audience was awash in the dazzling lightshow, courtesy of several large LED light strips operated by a lighting tech at the soundboard.
The band kicked into some of their most well-loved songs, from the new singles America 2 and Lost Boy from the album Kids, to some of their older material from their first album Days of Thunder. At every point, the audience cheered and threw up their hands. Many who were watching from the bar or the area above the floor were dancing with their significant others, swaying back and forth to the music. I witnessed at least one make-out session during The Midnight’s performance!
As the last notes of Los Angeles, the last song from Days of Thunder rolled out to the audience, the band went to take brief hiatus before the encore. As I looked around, I could clearly hear the crowd chanting “Sunset! Sunset!” I smiled, knowing that Sunset was always their closing song. True to form, the band closed their set with the electronic-rock masterpiece, with the entire audience screaming the lyrics back to the band. Lyle, the lead singer, told the audience about the creation of the song, which he said was composed mostly in Dover, DE during the performer’s younger years. Lyle said of the songs creation: “I was staying in this cheap hotel in Dover [Delaware] and there were crowbar marks on the doors next to mine. I thought that this hotel seemed perfect as a stop along the way for young people, who were running away from something.” No matter how the song came to be, the audience had an absolute blast singing along with the band.
In the end, The Midnight reminded the audience of what it means to be young. Their music and performance took the audience to another place, one in which almost anything is possible. I will never forget the audience jumping up and down while “Sunset” played. I’ll be back to see The Midnight again, just to re-capture that feeling once again. They will be at the Civic Music Hall in Toledo on September 13th, and I think I’ll be there once again, to time travel with my favorite band. I hope to see you there!