House of Blues, Boston
Oct. 18, 2014
Ryan Gray sure knows how to set an audience on fire.
Let me explain. I headed toward the front of the general admission section of the House of Blues apprehensively. The crowd was growing, but incredibly calm, likely resigned to wait the minimum forty-five minutes for a living soul to appear onstage, chattering mildly about their love for the British indie headline act, saving their excitement for the aforementioned band.
Luxley did not give them that option. Not only was the band surprisingly punctual, but after minimal introduction, the venue was filled with the ambitiously vibrant notes of their first song. As soon as the lyrics began, so did the frontman Ryan Gray’s enthusiastic dance moves.
At first, members of the audience turned to each other in confusion, but within a verse the strange looks merged into arms raised and heads bobbing. The set was short, but impactful, Gray moving from stage to railing to the middle of the audience, making the crowd not simply onlookers, but active members of the performance. He was engaging, exciting, spreading his passion for the music through the audience like fire in a forest — one couldn’t help but dance along. No more than halfway through the set, it was already apparent that this opening act wouldn’t be forgotten.
The band’s music was notable in itself. As part of the (presumably) one-band genre of “wildfire dance rock,” the songs featured classically indie undertones, layered melodies, and a bluesy touch. Gray, who is a year out of Tulane’s MD/PhD program, felt his decision to delay practicing medicine and pursue a musical career truly solidify when he wrote the title song of the band’s EP Spirit. He was exposed to music at an early age, both from his father’s career as a musician and the pervasive jazz culture of his hometown, New Orleans.
What makes these songs Wildfire is that they’re born from organic experimentation, a plethora of instruments and tunes all “doing their own thing” but coming together to make something great. The “dance” part seems to mainly come from Gray’s grooving onstage, and the “rock” points to the band’s clear alternative influence. Though the name doesn’t seem in any way intuitive, listening to a single song from the group proves that it fits.
If, like Luxley’s Ryan Gray, you find that good music simply comes down to “good melody, that’s it,” or you just want to get a head start on listening to what will soon be playing at hipster apartment parties across the nation, I’d definitely recommend checking them out. Luxley’s Spirit EP is set to arrive in spring of 2015, and I expect (and hope) that there will be plenty more material to come.