Photo credit: Katie Leathers
Reno locals slowly began trickling into the Holland Project at around 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 28. By 8:30 the venue was nearly packed, with the audience encircling the stage as local band Lyle performed some jazz-centric tunes. After their set there was a tangible sense of energy in the air while everyone awaited the main act—Night Rooms.
A few minutes later, the band climbed onstage to the sound of thunderous applause and cheering. Nic Graver, Ryan Burt and Landon Renwick assumed their positions at their designated instruments and thanked the crowd for coming out. After some instrumental tuning and a few light-hearted jokes, the band began performing songs from their new album Is to the mesmerized audience below them.
Their performance began slowly, drawing the fans into a peaceful lull that had some bobbing their heads lazily and others swaying gently from side to side. In the front row were people singing along to every word, unable to take their eyes off the band. As the night went on, the three musicians alternated between instruments, vocals and even moods. At some points the music seemed mellow and almost too sad to bear, while other moments had the singers and audience singing at the top of their voices.
Nic, one of the lead singers, guitarists and an occasional drummer of Night Rooms, first began as a solo acoustic artist in his teens. He and Landon had known each other since second grade and began playing music together in middle school. While Nic worked on his own acoustic projects in high school, Landon and Ryan performed in a rock band together called Cynical Innocence. Yet once Ryan heard the music that Nic was creating by himself, he suggested that they all start a band together.
“[I] heard his solo/acoustic music on soundcloud and loved it,” said Ryan, “[I] thought it was catchy and relatable and super genuine…I hit up Nic at some point during his senior year in high school and told him I’d love to start a band. So once he got to UNR we started a band.”
In the years since, the band’s fanbase has grown considerably in Reno and along the west coast. Is was released on May 31 as Night Room’s third collection of music, following their EP Outside Days (2017) and their demo tape in 2016. The three band members maintained a nice balance in the creation of the album, with Nic and Ryan writing the music and Landon mixing and mastering the album to perfection.
Their vibe can easily be described as “sadboi music”—a dreamy, alternative fusion of sound that captures the essence of other artists and bands like Mild High Club, The Growlers, Mac Demarco and Homeshake. Night Rooms describe their own music as “close to jazz, rock and surf” (surf being a subgenre of rock that arose in California during the 1960s).
As a songwriter, Nic claims that his lyrics always come from a deeply emotional place.
“All our best songs—the ones I write at least—are the ones that come to me at three in the morning and I’m playing hella quietly on the guitar, just sad,” he said. “But you get through it by writing it. You learn about yourself and you figure it out and that’s the real inspiration. It’s emotions…And you can share them with people and you know they’ve felt that too.”
In terms of future hopes for the band, Ryan claims that they have a lot in store to look forward to.
“Future hopes are to continue writing and collaborating to make each album better than the last,” he said. “We have no problem continuing to self produce, but we are open to the possibility of joining a record label. We also want to start setting up larger national tours once we are able to gain a bigger following that’s not limited to the west coast.”
Yet their fanbase in Reno is incredibly supportive to say the least. Night Rooms captivated those lucky enough to witness their first live performance of Is that Thursday night.
“It’s always a good time seeing Night Rooms live,” said Cedrick Alcala, a local fan and member of the audience on Thursday. “They’re my favorite band in Reno.”
Another fan, Jiah Jewell, also enjoyed their new album and was thoroughly impressed by their show.
“One of my favorite things they do is how they cycle the instruments they play during their set,” he said. “It’s crazy and it proves the musical talent that the band has.”
Night Rooms is scheduled for another performance at the Holland Project on Friday, July 20 at 8 p.m., along with The Sextones. Tickets are available at the door or online at www.hollandreno.org. Don’t miss out!