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Melt Fills Sold-Out Brighton Music Hall With Funk-Pop Ecstasy

There was no shortage of Docs in the line piling up outside Brighton Music Hall on Friday, December 10. A group of friends passed around a vape. Someone walked by wearing rare band merch, a custom blue long sleeve tour shirt. For a fan to obtain this shirt, they would have had to enter a special two-hundred-member group chat, join a vote to decide the shirt’s color, and obtain a password for Melt’s website. Though fans were excited, there was no jostling to get into the venue. 

Melt’s first headliner tour began in October 2021 and had the band traveling up and down the East Coast, an activity the members are no stranger to. In the past few years, its members have attended colleges dispersed across the greater New England area. New York City influences much of the band’s songwriting — many band members consider it their hometown. The sextet features Veronica Stewart-Frommer on vocals, Eric Gabriel on vocals & keys, Marlo Shankweiler on guitar, Josh Greenzeig on drums, Lucas Saur on bass, and Nick Sare on sax. For this performance, Evan Lane stepped in on trumpet. 

Inside, the crowd flocked towards the stage, packed almost shoulder-to-shoulder. Opening for Melt was The Brazen Youth, with Mei Semones playing some especially captivating solos on the guitar. In the interim, The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” blasted over the speakers.

And then Melt walked on, frontperson Stewart-Frommer entering in a big furry brown coat which she promptly shed. The lead singer’s pants matched the guitarist’s patterned top perfectly as they launched into Shy, their 2020 single. Eric Gabriel joined Stewart-Frommer on vocals for “Oh Brother.” (Throughout the concert, a personal cheering section could be heard screaming encouragement at Eric.)

Following was an unnamed new song, then “Plant," and “Stupid in Love," a reflection on a relationship that has flatlined: “I've never been superstitious / But I'll take what I can get / So I'm knocking on wood and sleeping with clovers in my bed […] We don't talk like we used to / No more late night calls / I've been building bridges while you're putting up walls.” 

The lead singer took a break from her impressive belting, using her lower register for the timely and catchy “West Side Highway,” a product of life in 2020 New York City. The song reflects on protests, lockdown, and with the lyric "See my city coming together / like they did when I was just two years old,” facing calamity in a post-9/11 world.

Next was the groovy and danceable “Inside.” Though I loved the song, I was standing near the speakers and winced at the occasional feedback echoes. I noticed the person next to me disappear but didn't think much of it until she pressed a set of ear plugs into my hand. They matched her own.

After an instrumental jam, Gabriel took the lead on vocals with “Whirlpool," and the crowd sang along to a cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain't No Sunshine.” Stewart-Frommer is active in nuclear non-proliferation and is a fellow with Beyond the Bomb, a grassroots organization dedicated to preventing nuclear war. She explained that the band received a box containing a thousand condoms through a partnership with Beyond the Bomb, which they were tasked to distribute, encouraging their audience and the public to “make love not war.” As band members enthusiastically threw condoms into the crowd, fans caught them with equal fervor.

Melt played more songs off their debut EP, West Side Highway: “Hours,” “Don't Want Me.” Stewart-Frommer’s effervescent stage presence was complemented by a playful brass section composed of Lane and Sare. The band finished up with “Never Be Alone," and “Waves,” saying their thank yous and leaving the stage. 

The crowd chanted “One more song!” and the band came trooping back out. The encore was “Brown Eyes” and fan favorite, “Sour Candy," the 2017 single which reached #5 on Billboard‘s US Viral 50 Chart and catapulted the band into the hearts of many, including mine. The night ended, swathed in Melt’s psychedelic funk-pop-soul fusion sound, chill and energetic and charmingly collective.