Capital Cities to play at Humpy’s Big Spawn summer concert series

CapitalCities_taken by Eliot Lee HazelOn June 6 Humpy’s is bringing up indie pop band Capital Cities with guest Youngblood Hawke. The concert is the first of Humpy’s Big Spawn summer concert series to celebrate their 20th summer anniversary.

Capital Cities are known for their international multi-platinum hit “Safe and Sound.” The song hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on Billboard’s U.S. alternative songs chart.

The music video for “Safe and Sound” was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Music Video and won in the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Visual Effects. With images of people projected over the background of the restored Los Angeles Theater in old school film projector style in black and white and a 3-D movie without 3-D glasses, it’s hard to not see why the video won for Best Visual Effects.

Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian of Los Angeles met through Craigslist in 2008 and formed the group in 2010, according to their official website bio. After releasing their own self-titled EP in 2011, which included the song “Safe and Sound,” they found that radios in Peru were playing their music so they set out to promote themselves in the United States. Soon after they were picked up by Capitol Records under their indie label, Lazy Hooks, and released the album “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery” in 2013. The band also now works with bassist Manny Quintero, trumpeter Spencer Ludwig, guitarist Nick Merwin and drummer Channing Holmes.

Their music has a lot of synth with upbeat rhythm and sound. It’s obviously pop music, but just weird enough to be considered indie pop, reminiscent of ‘80s new wave mixed with more electronic elements and happy trumpets.

Most critics have given Capital Cities good reviews. Spin described the group’s sound as, “Breezy summer electro jams by guys who know what commercial means.”

Matt Collar’s review on All Music said, “The album brings to mind the early, innovative electronic music of artists who were earnestly taken with the explicitly computer-generated sounds of the modern wonder that was the synthesizer, like Level 42 and Giorgio Moroder. In that sense, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery fits in nicely alongside the works of such similarly inclined indie pop contemporaries as AM & Shawn Lee, MGMT, Phoenix and the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas’ solo work.”

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While Collar finds it very easy to define and relate the band to current and former groups, not all are able to so easily classify what Capital Cities are all about.

“I find them to be quite interesting. They have a very different sound than anything else. I wouldn’t know how to classify. I couldn’t possibly classify it as indie pop because it is neither indie nor pop, so it’s very difficult to classify a sound such as that. It’s very interesting, though. I do enjoy listening to their music,” said engineering major Diego Barros.

But not everyone is impressed with the group, especially with their so-called “commercial” sound.

“It just reminds me of watching TV,” said English major Rebekah Laggis, describing the song “Safe and Sound” as commercial.

On Sputnik music, contributor Nathan Flynn wrote a review on Capital Cities’ album “In A Tidal Wave of Mystery” stating, “Unsurprisingly, their music is just as vapid and immaterial as ‘Let’s Go to the Lobby’ but is made by men with an inflated sense of self-importance and delusions of grandeur, creating an awkward gray area of blurred intentions and mixed messages.”


Capital Cities play outside of Humpy’s on June 6 on the corner of F Street and Seventh Avenue. Tickets for the event are $45 each and are available at The show is all ages, but valid ID is needed at the doors, which open at 6 p.m.