Mild High Club’s name is a play on words akin to a joke, but make no mistake, their music is far from a joke. Mild High Club is the product of Chicago native Alexander Brettin. A student of jazz music during his time college, Alex music successfully conveys the sound of his studies with Mild High Club’s newest album Skiptracing. A combination of psychedelic pop, traditional quintet jazz pieces sprinkled with a hint of 70s AM radio nostalgia, Mild High Club delivers an otherworldly experience that’s best experienced in person. Fortunately, I was able to catch their first trip to Houston this past Monday at The Secret Group.
I arrived around 7:30pm to the side door of the Secret Group, getting an early glimpse of the band unloading their equipment from the side of the street alongside opening act Jerry Paper. The band was nonchalantly chilling with the doorman and those at the head of the line, laughing and smoking cigarettes like they all knew each other for years. Seeing that, I knew I was in for a good time, their great personalities matching their great sound.
People were being let inside around 8pm, with the opening act Jerry Paper taking stage around 9pm. I wasn’t familiar with Jerry Paper until the he started playing the day of the show, but his sound was something similar to Homeshake, taking the form of a relaxing pop vibe layered under an indie rock skin. If there’s one thing I took away from Jerry Paper, it’s that he’s one helluva a frontman. His theatrics and stage presence grab the audience’s attention, and the shenanigans he does in between sets makes you feel like you’re at a stand up comedy act instead of a concert. At the end of his set, I realized why he opened up for Mild High Club, they’re like puzzle pieces and work well for each other.
At 10pm, Mild High Club took stage and introduced themselves to the crowd, mentioning it was their first trek to Houston and acknowledging Houston for their World Series victory. The group appropriately began the night with their intro song “Club Intro,” also the intro song on their first album Timeline. The perfect way to begin their set, this extended version set the mood for the crowd, luring us into a daze and leaving us open for the waves of sound that was to come.
Everything happened as quickly as it began, with the majority of Skiptracing and some of Timeline being played true to record. “Skiptracing”, the self-titled track, brought harmonizing vocals to the tune of a early morning soundtrack, with tracks “Homage” and “Tesselation” having us mimic the motion of ocean waves. Towards the end of the set, Alex switched places with his other bandmates and took the helm on keyboards for the more jazzy and piano focused songs. Kicking off with “Kokopelli” and ending with an extended version of “Chapel Perilous,” the band surprised those expecting a Mac DeMarco-esque sound with a pleasant mixture of Michael Franks and Todd Rundgren. Ending their set with “Windowpane,” the most popular song off of Timeline, Mild High Club ended the show in a manner that only they could.
My time at The Secret Group was great from beginning to end. Jerry Paper set the tone nicely leading into Mild High Club, with Mild High Club going above and beyond my expectations. I was able to talk to Alex Brettin after the show and his personality is an exact reflection of his music, chill and laid-back. If you have the chance, make sure to watch Mild High Club before they blow up in popularity. Believe me, their live shows are otherworldly.