THE OCEAN BLUE Concert Review (Echoplex)

“The Sweet Sounds of the Ocean Blue”
Written by Jason Reed
October 28, 2018

Tonight the Ocean Blue captivated the Echoplex in Los Angeles with their trademark confectionery blend of jangly guitar, heartfelt lyrics and indie stylings, giving fans a sweet blend of musical treats that would leave them begging for more throughout the night.

I had the pleasure of interviewing David Schelzel and Oed Ronne in 2015 at the Echoplex last time they performed there. We chatted about the band’s legacy as one of the quintessential college radio bands of the late 80’s and 90’s, their early musical memories and what music they were listening to at the time (yay Beach House!). We also talked about their early beginnings where, as teenagers in high school in Hershey, Pennsylvania,  they were able to fulfill their dreams by scoring a three record major label deal with Sire records, putting them on the same label as many of the indie bands they worshipped with wide-eyed adoration. That much deserved and impressive accomplishment put them on the path that they continue on to this day.

The last few years have been exciting ones for fans of the band. Since the release of 2013’s studio album “Ultramarine,” The Ocean Blue has seen a renewed level of creative output and inspired music that rivals anything from their already impressive back catalog. Their studio releases have a degree of consistent goodness and precision that can come dangerously close to imparting incredulity on the part of attentive listeners, as though these melodies were divinely bestowed, like Prometheus’s unsanctioned gift of fire towards mankind. In this case, the secret of the band’s success isn’t due to the influence of an interventionist Greek god but rather their skilled and undeviating ability to improve upon their trademark sound, venturing into new waters without being derivative, formulaic or redundant. Those awe-inspiring ingredients were on full display throughout the evening.

After Luxembourg Signal’s solid opening set, The Ocean Blue walked on stage with masquerade masks, plastic Halloween trick-or-treat pumpkins and cups full of chocolate candies. As unofficial, de facto ambassadors for a certain chocolate company from Hershey, PA, they were ready to share these confections with the crowd. I herein submit the “blink and you’ll miss it” photographic evidence of Bobby Mittan’s generous hometown spirit on display later in the night:

The Kisses That Ocean Blue Threw

The crowd was then treated to a number of new tracks including “Paraguay” and the melancholy and reflective “Therein Lies The Problem With My Life.”

Other highlights included their peppy, energetic renditions of “Marigold,” “Ballerina Out of Control” and “Vanity Fair” along with one of my personal favorites, “Give It A Try.” To this day, I am still blown away by David’s guitar solo in “Between Something and Nothing.” It’s up there with Johnny Marr’s finest work in the pantheon of impressive guitar licks and is a real treat to see performed live.

If there was anything unsatisfying or bittersweet about the evening, it was the unfiltered, bellowing and discordant renditions of the lyrics from “Sublime” and “Myron” that were sung off key by a particularly drunk and hotheaded large man right behind me who, strangely enough, seemed hell bent on picking fights with others in the crowd with his aggressive and antagonistic antics. The phrase “bull in a china shop” couldn’t be a more apt idiom for a man whose unrefined interpersonal skills seemed more fitting for a Budweiser-sponsored Kid Rock concert or NASCAR race, than at a concert for one of the finest, most sublime indie bands around.  But I digress….

Tonight’s show proved, once again, that The Ocean Blue are one of the most compelling and refreshing bands you’ll ever have the pleasure of seeing. Offering a chance at future redemption for the unlucky ones who didn’t make it to the show, David announced that the band will be releasing a new album, touring and coming back to Los Angeles in 2019. We eagerly await the lads’ return and hope to interview them again the next time they come through town.

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