Standing in the pit just before a concert, feeling like a sardine crushed against strangers, you look up at the stage anxiously waiting for the band you paid to see. Generally, there is an opening act first, amping up the crowd for the main event.
Unless you were at the Backseat Lover’s concert in Cleveland at the end of July.
When the time came, you watched the band you came to see walk on stage, opening their own concert with some acoustic songs.
Bassist KJ Ward recounted this story when discussing the “spontaneous energy” the band felt during the Turning Point Tour. The opening act fell through, so the band followed an impulse and opened up their own set.
The Backseat Lovers play a sold-out show at McDonald Theater on Aug. 14, supported by the band Mercury. In a conversation with Eugene Weekly, guitarist Jonas Swanson and Ward spoke about the impulsivity and risks the band is successfully pulling off this tour.
“I feel like we can take more risks in a live show with the set,” Swanson says, “doing more unplanned and unrehearsed stuff.”
The band has been embellishing parts of songs as they see fit, and sometimes going into a longer jam if the energy is right, Swanson says. In his eyes, it’s a great way to keep things interesting and fun.
But more than just their current songs, Swanson says the band has also been adding new, unreleased songs to their sets. New releases are coming “very, very soon,” he says.
On this tour the Backseat Lovers have played major festivals such as the Newport Folk Festival and Sea.Hear.Now Festival and are headed for the Firefly Music Festival coming up. And the band has just wrapped up a performance at Outside Lands in San Francisco. In between festivals, the band has played sold-out concerts throughout the US and Canada.
With this kind of schedule, it’s impressive that The Backstreet Lovers have played together for only a few years. Swanson says the band started playing together and recording its first EP, “Elevator Days,” back in 2017. The EP was released in 2018.
Ward and Swanson say they are grateful for the fans and family that have supported their journey.
“Being able to play these festivals and continue to see our fan base grow has just been really special for us,” Ward says. “We’re just really, really grateful for all the support to help us get to this point.”
The Backseat Lovers play McDonald Theatre on Aug. 14. Doors open at 7 pm, with music starting at 8 pm. Tickets are sold out.