Landon Conrath and Yam Haus Are Sincere and Celebratory at the Beat Kitchen

Arts Contributor Advaita Sood reviews Landon Conrath and Yam Haus’s indie-pop performances at the Beat Kitchen and Conrath’s 2022 album “Nothing Matters Anyway.”

By Advaita Sood, Arts Contributor

When I first streamed Landon Conrath’s music, I envisioned myself staring distantly out a window into the evening or lying face-up on a bed with a pain-masking gaze. His music was made for a scene from any coming-of-age story depicting pensive young-adult angst. However, a lot of indie-pop music that tries to be in those scenes have a mawkish seriousness that causes me to cringe convulsively. Conrath’s 2022 album Nothing Matters Anyway comes across as a genuine, relatable expression of the troubles of venturing into adulthood. Perhaps it is because the electronic synths and guitar riffs characteristic of melancholic indie-pop are lent a certain lightness by the danceable drumbeats that populate most of the songs on the album, or perhaps it is because the humor of Conrath’s wonderfully impressionistic lyrics make them more relatable. This is what I expected from Conrath’s show at the Beat Kitchen: him playing his songs as they appear on their tracks—low-key yet emotive—and the audience swaying or bobbing our heads lightly as we were transported to one of the aforementioned melancholy scenes to sift through our troubles. That is not what happened.

From the first punchy drumbeat to the first resounding strum of an electronic guitar to the first maniacal yell of an inebriated fangirl, I realized the concert was going to be different. I had expected danceable but understated drums, resplendent but soft guitars, and audience members operating at frequencies appropriate to such sounds. However, the show was closer to a head-banging rock concert than to an indie-pop show. It was the same notes and words in the same order, the same voice and instruments, but different energy. The instrumentals were louder and more forceful, as were Conrath’s vocals, and where the indie-pop lead usually stands planted before the microphone (perhaps with that distant expression), Conrath jumped around, danced in a gleefully awkward manner, regularly made faces at his bandmates, cracked jokes, and conversed with his audience. At one point during the performance, he began a song in the wrong key, realized this half a minute into the song (though we, the audience, remained blissfully unaware), laughed, stopped the song, apologized to the audience, and restarted. Even on stage, Conrath seemed like a goofy musician-friend everyone knew, which made his songs all the more relatable. And while his songs on Spotify seem steeped in resigned melancholy, during the live performance, he encouraged us to rejoice in our collective melancholy. “Nothing matters anyway!” was celebrated as a tenet of happy life rather than lamented as it is in the album version of his song “Trader Joe’s.” The concert changed the way I listen to Conrath, for I realized that what separates him from the mass of corny indie-pop bands and artists is not merely the sincerity of his music but also his willingness to celebrate—rather than whine about—the troubles of youth.

Following Conrath’s set was Yam Haus—the show’s main act—whose songs had some of the grooviest beats and guitar riffs that I have ever heard. The pop band, comprised of members Lars Pruitt (vocals and guitar), Seth Blum (guitar), Jake Felstow (drums), and Zach Beinlich (bass), continued Conrath’s similarly life-affirming music, though without the angsty undertones. Their setlist ranged from sunny, energetic bops like “West Coast” to heady tunes like “Novocaine,” with every song capturing some of the joys of being alive. “In many ways, we live in a post-apocalyptic world, but it’s also beautiful, and this is the beautiful part,” said Pruitt before launching into a particularly groovy electropop number titled “The Thrill.” Pruitt himself was very much the quirky, entertaining, Freddie Mercury–type lead, with his flawless vocals and weird, almost graceful dance moves. Of course, a large part of this enjoyment stemmed from the audience the entire night, who erupted into mass hysteria the second Conrath opened his mouth until well after Yam Haus had left the stage (such was to be expected after the maniacal yell of an inebriated fangirl). And so, to anyone looking to swap out their pain-masking gaze for a pain-rejoicing, life-affirming dance, I recommend that you give Landon Conrath and Yam Haus a listen.