Nothing better than watching a full grown man move his hips to the beat in a full length black jumper and a statement pair of black sunglasses. Jason Huber and Jordan Kelley, more popularly known as Cherub, returned to Des Moines after a two year hiatus; no time to waste on fashion choices. The duo from Nashville, Tennessee, returned to Des Moines, Iowa for their second time on February 5, and were joined by electro-rock duo, Mosie as their opener and tour-mate, Meth Dad, as their opening DJ.
This show falls under their 2019 Free Form tour across America, and featured hits from their new EPs, “Dancing Shoes”, “Thru it All”, “So What”, “All In”, and “Body Language”, as well as some oldies from their debut album,“Year of the Caprese” and their sophomore album, “Antipasto”.
The duo kicked off the show with a teaser of their biggest hit, “Doses and Mimosas” as vertical LED lights flashed rainbows at the crowd. The stage was only big enough to fit the two of them comfortably, and it shook as the boys jumped into their first song, “XOXO”, a mix of throbbing electronic beats behind Kelley on guitar and Huber on bass. The duo is known for mixing groovy synths with room-filling guitar riffs and experimental 80’s-funk beats done on a mixer on the spot. Huber, who sported the black jumpsuit and a baseball cap turned backwards, resembled your local mechanic. He switched with ease from bass to guitar, to throwing either over his back and working on the drum machine, jumping back and forth in his high top Adidas boots.
What Cherub does well, is produce music that crosses genres. They’re seen as similar to popular electronic artists like GRiZ and Big Gigantic. Yet their use of live instruments and guitar talent attract some of the same fans as St. Lucia and Atlas Genius, two popular indie rock groups. “Dance and Sing”, the band’s second song of the night is a perfect example of this. The mellow, pulsating beat in the background matched with a classic 80’s-dance drum line contrasts the band’s somewhat solemn lyrics, “I wanna dance even when I’m buried six feet deep”. The song builds and incorporates more of an electronic feel with an altered voice in the background and a sound that just urges you to move.
Regardless of what kind of genre you’re into, what drives people back to these shows is the palpable chemistry between Huber and Kelley, and their connection with the audience. During “Hold Me”, both boys are on vocals. The energy they put into the audience as they both stood at the front of the stage with their microphone stands electrified the crowd, who joined in on the chorus. They’re as much fun as you can possibly get from a local concert in a bar that fits just a couple hundred people. At times, they dance on stage as if they’re in their own garage, giving each other what looks like a secret handshake and standing on top of the barricade with the audience – something the people in the front row, especially me, always appreciate.
The two cracked another PBR and picked up their guitars as the cresting beat to “Doses and Mimosas” crept up. The crowd roared. The song hit Billboard’s Rock Airplay chart and has more than 23 million views on YouTube, effectively making it their most popular hit and a common pregame bop to get you on your feet. The duo stood at the front of the stage, urging the crowd to clap with them as the beats progressed.
Ultimately, seeing Cherub live is a guaranteed fun night. Whether you go out for drinks with the guys after, find yourself pressed up against the barricade front row or propped up at a table in the back, every seat is the best seat in the house. Maybe they’ll keep up the tradition and be back at Wooly’s in two years, fingers crossed.