The Pyramid Scheme, one of Grand Rapids’ most intimate and casual venues, presented a strong blend of electronic dance pop Monday night when 80’s prog-pop group The Fixx shared the stage with local up and comers, Alexis. The venue has quickly become one of the better live music options in GR since it opened about two years ago. Last night’s show brought in an audience that varied in age; certainly a number of Fixx fans from their heyday 30 years ago made up a large percentage of those in attendance, but a number of younger fans attended as well. While the show was advertised to begin at 7pm, music did not begin until 9pm, which is not uncommon for The Pyramid Scheme. Aside from that, the night went pretty much without a hitch, and both bands thoroughly entertained.
First up, local synth-pop duo, Alexis, who have recently participated in a number of higher profile performances, including the annual Founder’s Fest last month. Alexis’ music features a steady pulsing dance beat in most songs, the majority of which are very upbeat and dance-oriented. There were also a few ballads for a bit of dynamics, which the band also played well, but this group’s energy is best suited for the accessible, calorie-burning, faster numbers. There is also a satirical element to the group’s sound, style, and appearance that seemed to be lost on some in the audience, but the strong beats, loops, and keyboard attack of Dan Hurst make the songs work regardless.
Hurst played what appeared to be five different units to provide the music while vocalist Matthew Forbush danced perpetually throughout the set. While the band’s songs were new to many in attendance, they are immediately engaging with recognizable and comfortable sounds that lean more towards an 80’s-style production but incorporate elements from 90’s dance music and modern styles as well. Many duos debatably find it difficult to keep things interesting on stage, but Alexis is mostly a very animated group that is hard to ignore. Forbush ‘s crowd interaction works one angle while Hurst’s inventive keyboard solos occupied the space that would normally be filled by guitar solos, some of which matched a sound similar to Pink Floyd’s late keyboardist, Richard Wright. Alexis is a very entertaining and fun band to see live, and they’ve got a bunch more area bookings coming up soon.
After a short set change, the evening’s headliners took the stage. Aside from The Fixx’s notable 80’s pop hit, “One Thing Leads To Another,” the average person probably wouldn’t recognize much by the band, but a dedicated fan base that supported the tours and records of 30 years ago came out to represent and show their love to the group, which was the best part about their performance. The Fixx’s set opened with three songs from their latest LP, 2012’s Beautiful Friction, which were well crafted but not very interesting. As they segued into older and more rock-influenced, guitar-driven material, the crowd responded enthusiastically, and the band delivered their signature hit with plenty of audience vocal assistance on the chorus.
While the Fixx faithful came out to enjoy some of their favorites from the past and show their love to the band, it is difficult to compare the energy and audience engagement of their set to Alexis’. One could argue that the openers essentially stole the show, but it is safe to say that most in attendance thoroughly enjoyed one band or the other, if not both.