Thumping bass, floors sticky with spilled beer, screenprinted T-shirts … Revolution Live or the go-to campus spot for watching March Madness? On Saturday night, the Rat transformed into a makeshift venue to host indie-pop trio Smallpools. The show, free to all UM students who had tickets, was hosted by Hurricane Productions.
Lead singer Sean Scanlon expressed the band’s excitement about playing its first-ever Miami show at the University of Miami. He asked the crowd to throw up the “U” more than once during Smallpools’ 12-song, hour-long set.
The band performed nearly every song off of its debut LP, “LOVETAP!,” as well as an acoustic cover of “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers.
The band chose to open with the catchy, feel-good song “Over & Over.” Songs such as “Street Fight,” with a contagious and clever chorus that hitches on martial arts master Bruce Lee, and LP namesake “Lovetap!,” featuring another strong refrain and an unexpected bridge, rounded out the bulk of the performance.
Before launching into “Karaoke,” released as a single in 2014, Scanlon spoke of the band’s love for alt-rock icons The Killers and drew a parallel between the band’s own song and The Killers’ “Human.” If anything, “Karaoke” sounds more like it was written by Train, but the crowd was more than happy to sing along when the band launched into the chorus from “Human” at the close of “Karaoke.”
The band also played its latest single, “Run With the Bulls,” a short song by most standards, which dropped on Dec. 1.
“We disappeared for a year [after the release of “LOVETAP!”] and came back with a one-minute-and-30-second song,” Scanlon joked.
Short or not, the song, much heavier than the typical Smallpools track, packed a punch.
Then came the splash.
A barrage of pool inflatables accompanied the opening chords of “Killer Whales.” Inflated orcas and inner tubes were flung into the crowd, only about 50-60 people deep, and were not easy to avoid.
Scanlon explained that the song was written as a response to aquarium and theme park practices of keeping killer whales in small pools, an issue fitting for the band’s name.
The band finished on a high note with its debut single, “Dreaming,” which the entire crowd sang along to.
For a small show, it was high-energy, but each Smallpools song, though catchy, is only marginally different from the last, save for “Run With the Bulls.” The intimacy of the show and enthusiasm of the band made up for the lack of variety in the set list.