Jodi Lipstick at The Avenue Cafe in Lansing, MI

Capital City Film Festival goers danced the night away to Lipstick Jodi’s synthesizer-heavy indie pop at The Avenue Cafe in Lansing.

Michigan’s Capital City Film Festival is known for bringing an eclectic mix of musical acts, ranging from heavy metal and hip hop to folk music, to complement the international and independent film screenings it hosts each spring. Last Thursday night, it was time for the synthesizer to shine.

Lansing’s The Avenue cafe served as the perfect backdrop for the show. The venue features a pinball-lined mezzanine that overlooks the stage, an award-winning ramen joint on the first floor, and a gritty, LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere that gives off almost punk vibes.

After a thorough sound check, based in Detroit Dirt kicked things off with their energetic brand of shoegaze-inspired electronica. The group was formed in 2016 and currently includes the live quartet of SJ Sprague, Pat Norton, Duncan MacKillop and Nate Zonnevylle. The band has a full album to their name, summer salts, released in 2020.

The vocals of bandleader SJ Sprague delivered a moving narrative as the rest of the four-piece band used collages of improvisational samples, drum loops and synthesizer magic to create a wall of sound that kept the crowd on their toes. During their hour-long set, multi-instrumentalist Norton would occasionally provide an emphatic jump from his amp while stretching guitar chords into layered, sometimes eerie textures.

Three-part headliners Jodi lipstick then took the stage and took the energy in the room to another level with their synth-heavy indie-pop sound. The Grand Rapids-based trio was formed in 2014 and is fronted by vocalist and guitarist Karli Morehouse who, despite a broken foot, kept the crowd bouncing throughout the show.

With a self-titled album released in 2017 and their latest album more like me released in 2021, Lipstick Jodi has developed a growing reputation for blending rich vocal harmonies with earworm-like melodies that drip from synthesizer. While musical influences like Tegan and Sara and St. Vincent were clear throughout their setlist, the band have a sound all their own.

Songs like “Take Me Seriously”, from their more like me album, were emblematic of the night with lyrics that conveyed the universal angst any up-and-coming band must feel, paired with a catchy pop hook that had everyone in the room bobbing. Lipstick Jodi had the crowd dancing and jumping at full capacity as they attempted to close the show with their jams “Don’t Wanna Know” and “do/SAY”, both of which were recently released as singles.

The festival-goers had not yet finished partying. They demanded one more song as the band left the stage, so Morehouse and his bandmates agreed by releasing an excellent cover of “Mr. Brightside”, as the last dance of the evening.

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