Concert review: COIN lead singer develops connection with audience but outshines ensemble
Led by frontman Chase Lawrence, Nashville, Tennessee, band COIN performed at The Wiltern with a discography spanning multiple albums. The band used strobe lights and four screens to supplement its performance. (Anika Chakrabarti/Assistant Photo editor)
"Rainbow Dreamland Tour"
By Zinnia Finn
Nov. 14, 2021 6:18 p.m.
This weekend, COIN was more than spare change.
Performing at The Wiltern on Saturday night, the Nashville, Tennessee, natives brought an intensity to the stage that was absent from their previous studio recordings. Prefaced by an enthusiastic opening by Valley, the energy of the crowd was electric – but the production value and lighting of the show primed the night for a tug of war of attention.
Snapping from pitch-black to color, four screens illuminated the stage minutes before the band stepped on. These neon squares were the audience’s first visuals, which felt like a suitable choice as they remained a constant presence behind the band throughout the course of the concert. Immediately before COIN’s entrance, the stage turned a hazy navy, the buzz of the crowd building and then erupting in sync with the opening bars of “Chapstick.” The backdrop of flashing cartoon faces played up the contrast of dark and light, offering the crowd a plethora of stimuli they couldn’t turn away from.
But the visual appeal of the screens was toned down in “Into My Arms,” with the dramatized expressions melting into softly shimmering circles and butterflies. As the tempo picked up, the shapes were accompanied by more flashing lights and an overhead glow, which illuminated lead singer Chase Lawrence’s neon t-shirt. The over-the-top theatrics felt a bit jarring for the second song, though, with the rapid strobes distracting from the band and leaving the members’ faces in shadows.
However, what the audience may have missed from Lawrence’s backlit expressions was well made up for with his dancing. Going against the sentiment of the title, his choreography for “I Don’t Wanna Dance” involved giddily running across the stage and encouraging the audience to jump up and down with him and the beat. Lawrence lassoed the energy that had been brewing since the opener and brought it into “Growing Pains,” with the crowd screaming along as the stage lit up bright white, the strobes in sync with the lead guitar’s rhythmic chords.
This enthusiasm kindled the performance through “Valentine,” characterized by chrome cupids and choreography that acted as a visual aid to the lyrics, with Lawrence tapping his wrist in place of a watch and blowing the crowd a kiss at the end. And though this sweet gesture had the potential to feel stale when it returned during “You Are the Traffic,” it instead served as a symbolic gesture for the connection between the stage and the audience. The motion was one of the highlights of the night’s performance, as fans returned the sentiment by passing him blooming flowers.
Despite the singer’s contagious energy, this intimate connection with the audience alongside Lawrence’s stage-sweeping choreography occasionally made the performance feel like a solo act with backup instrumentals, as opposed to a cohesive band. Guitar and drum solos were featured, but neither Joe Memmel or Ryan Winnen were given shoutouts or a true moment to shine, spare Memmel’s vocal solo in “Sagittarius Superstar” that earned him a kiss on the cheek from Lawrence. The stage banter was also kept to a minimum but to the point where the band felt fragmented and none of the individual members were so much as introduced. The collective group was simply announced by Lawrence after their fifth song on stage.
Similarly, the strobes, which initially fed the performance, grew tiring as the night wore on. And only in a few songs were there moments when the quadrants shined and supplemented the songs in ways that a traditional lighting scheme could not. One such instance was accompanied by Lawrence donning a yellow windbreaker, as the backdrop to “Let it All Out (10:05)” displayed a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, spreading its wings in sync with the later choruses. This warm glow continued with the molasses melody of “Malibu 1992,” the comparatively downtempo elements of the song a welcome relief from the quick flashes that became typical of the night’s set.
Finally returning to its original energy, the show finished with “Talk Too Much” and Lawrence strutting around the stage as he held the microphone out for the crowd in lieu of singing lyrics. Providing additional backup vocals throughout the entire night, the audience did not disappoint, belting out the chorus to the hit as confetti cannons sprinkled the venue with coral butterflies. Though the screens were as bright as ever, the energy of the audience finally balanced them as a grinning Lawrence held his hands up to form a heart.
The band was left shining in the middle, as the crowd and stage became two sides of the same COIN.