Friday at ACL 2018, Los Angeles bros Sir Sly played rock music for people who like to Instagram their workouts.
Do you wish 21 Pilots had less rapping? Do you like muscular rock engineered with synths and booming-but-familiar drum machine booms? Boy does Sir Sly have a song that rhymes “selfish” with “careless” for you.
Singer Landon Jacobs onstage said his songs were about acceptance. He said he wrote following personal trauma that involved “divorce and my mom dying of brain cancer.” He closed with a call to “love each other.” The crowd mostly bought it as the three-piece band efficiently performed brightly produced selected works from the upcoming third record.
“We want to be the biggest band in the world, so can you please sing along?” Jacobs beckoned to the Barton Springs stage crowd.
You can see it. His work swings for the fences — the 6-year-old “Ghost” is hypnotic with its droning grooves. Jacobs is outwardly edgy (“this one’s about a dream I had doing acid”), and has a cool neck tattoo. He climbed the stage’s rail. He sings disco-tinged dance rock about weed. From his exuberance, I can tell he’s lived with introspection and a love for burning the candles at both ends. Unfortunately he also writes some mean, awkwardly blunt lyrics that don’t always land like “It’s not your fault, the way you brainwashed me.”
• MORE: Full ACL Fest 2018 coverage
But he found some universal language that is a safe bet to get heavier play.
“We are just how we are,” Jacobs sang on the set-closing “&Run.” On the chorus he declares he wants to “take my shoes off and run.” It’s self-affirming lifestyle music. A guy in my line of sight held two black running shoes up, nodding in approval. (Jacobs wore red Vans that matched the font of his black Marilyn Manson shirt. He also removed his footwear.)
The band has used the internet smartly, leveraging blogs like the Hype Machine into a Cadillac ad and Sirius XM radio rotation. It’s travel-worn, stadium-ready music itching to break bigger.