L.A. band the Score makes super-sized alt-rock anthems. But, like most things super-sized, you’re probably better off without it.
Decked in all black, the ACL Fest 2019 Weekend Two-exclusive act took to the smaller BMI stage Friday afternoon. Right away it became clear their music follows a formula, one that seems copied verbatim from the homework of Imagine Dragons. Not only do they sound like Imagine Dragons; they sound ready to “Talented Mr. Ripley” them.
The Score’s truck-commercial rock trades silly things like subtlety and dynamics for 11-all-the-time chants of “oh oh oh” over watered-down hip-hop beats and bland Black Keys-like riffs. This is lab-built innocuous macho music made for CrossFit gym playlists and action movies with vaguely motivational lyrical content — which can almost entirely be summed up as variations on “Imma be me” and/or “The time is now.”
This stuff triggers a visceral reaction in me, but not like in an awesome way. So, yeah. The Score is not exactly my cup of tea. Or, more appropriately for their sound — not exactly my cup of Red Bull and snuck-into-the-park Jägermeister. But if it’s that sound you like, the Score certainly delivers and delivers it well.
And the crowd absolutely loved it.
My fist-shaking grumping at contemporary radio rock aside, there’s clearly a crowd for this, and they were amped and singing along Friday. Every song demanded a “hands up, Austin” and every song the crowd giddily obliged. There was truly no filler in the set, save a limp cover of Blur’s “Song 2,” a track on the shortlist of pieces that should never be covered by anyone. Or performed at karaoke. Just don’t do it, y’all.
It wasn’t a huge group there to see the Score on Friday — this is a smaller stage in the shadow of giants, after all—but it’s easy to see how this would scale to the big stage and a bigger crowd.
On record, the songs are mega-compressed to feel extra loud: skyscraper-sized drums stack on top of each other and suffocating layers of overdubbed vocals form a photo-copied chorus hammering “oh oh oh” into your skull. But live at ACL Fest, singer Eddie Anthony doesn’t hide behind studio wizardry to bulk up his sound. Nor did he need to. His voice was clear and high above the mix — with no place to conceal missteps — and he delivered the punch needed to sell this kind of booming, chest-beating stuff.
And it goes without saying, sounding like Imagine Dragons (or Young the Giant, if I’m being more generous) isn’t a bad thing for fans of that music. And following a formula isn’t inherently bad. That’s pretty much a loose definition of “genre.” Besides, if it were so simple to do, everyone would do it. Though, Imagine Dragons kind of already did.