It’s hard to see the Morning Benders perform and not comment on how adorable they are. No doubt this makes it even easier for the California foursome to peddle surfy indie pop that’s equally endearing. But when they’re not demurely pacing to and from the front of the stage, taking a moment to (modestly) enjoy their success, the simultaneously ragtag and preppy quartet are tipping and lurching on stage with their tools, completely focused on what they do.
Openers Oberhofer and Twin Sister warmed up the audience at Toronto’s Mod Club, and a pre-show playlist of cheery retro pop set the tone before the Benders came out. Stepping out to the opening strains of their biggest hit, “Excuses,” the quartet grinned eagerly as the crowd erupted, before launching into whispery, loping “Wet Cement.” Everyone knew the words, but during the hour-long set, lead singer Chris Chu — a quietly charming frontman with a beautiful lilting voice — made sure the crowd sang along to the hum-y hooks and verses on songs from this year’s The Big Echo.
Atmospheric “Mason Jar” and the heaving, growling “Promises” helped make up the relatively quiet first half of the show, before Chu loosened his shirt, launching the band into a heavier second half. Crowd favourite, the Benders’ cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” loosened up the swayers, spurring them to dance as a veil of bubbles drifted from the ceiling, right through to the night’s most anticipated song, “Excuses.” Chu and his bandmates extended the song with a loop pedal while noise-rocking their way out, closing the night’s loop by shredding over the song’s faint melody.
It’s time to transcend hipster-era nonchalance: the Morning Benders’ youthful eagerness and whimsy and “we made it and it’s awesome, guys!” attitude takes the band beyond adorable and into lovable.