Slanted Press stopped by The Aces' first UK show, at the Hare & Hounds, on their 2018 UK/EU tour.
Just this month, The Aces kicked off the UK segment of their headliner tour with a show at Hare & Hounds, Birmingham. With a sold-out show and a packed venue, the expectations were high.
Securing a barrier spot in front of guitarist Katie Hendy and with a clear view of frontwoman Cristal Ramirez, I had the perfect spot in the tightly packed room. The venue was dimmed, the crowd was energetic, and I was readily waiting to see how this all would play out.
The band confidently made their way across the stage to settle behind their instruments with a sense of familiarity and eagerness. After a short introduction, The Aces dove straight into their opening with ‘Put It on the Line’ and ‘Stay’. Their set continued to filter through the album. The talent of the band was imminently clear, their chemistry, and passion for music was unquestionable, so why, half way through their set, did I start to feel my excitement fade into disappointment.
As a small band from Utah, The Aces proved their worth by performing songs to almost studio perfection, despite Cristal’s vocals occassionally sounding a little gritty. Yet, as the set list drew on, there were times many of the songs felt like they bled into a tangled state becoming almost repetitive. If I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which songs were being played. The band’s limited energy in their performance made it a task to stay engaged. I’ll be honest, it was Alisa’s animated drumming that mostly kept my attention, that and Mckenna’s occasional breakdown of bass. Ironically, ‘Strong Enough’ started playing and I was beginning to wonder whether I was strong enough to last the entire set. It wasn’t until nearly three quarters through the set the band fully held my attention.
The highlight of the show wasn’t down to the band’s studio sound quality, but when The Aces pushed past their comfortable stage positions to give more than a safe performance. It was when Katie, who was visibly anxious, gave a short emotive speech about being grateful for their fans, or when Cristal and McKenna broke away to spontaneously play guitar and bass side by side during ‘Last One’, or when the band mirrored the crowd’s intense energy. It was these fleeting moments of transparency from the band that held the show together, and during these moments The Aces were at the best.
All in all, there’s no doubt these girls are in the right industry. Maybe the band were anxious for their opening UK show, but I wish they’d offered something more than a studio quality gig. If I wanted perfect playback of their record I’d find Volcanic Love on Spotify, but I was hoping for something a little more special. The Aces have found their creative sound and once they figure out their stage presence, they’ll be undeniably captivating.