Standing out from the pack at the Vans Warped Tour is no mean feat. With massive competition for concertgoers’ attention, every group has to make an instant impression or the crowd will drift off to one of the dozen other stages. Relient K didn’t have that problem during the festival’s Pomona stop last summer. Singer/pianist Matt Thiessen frantically pounded the ivories as his bandmates vigorously replicated their blend of acerbic emo and buoyant punk/pop tunes, then threw in a deft Kanye West cover (“Good Life”) for good measure. Relient K (named after the old Plymouth auto) hails from Ohio, where Thiessen—a Canadian transplant—and lead guitarist Matthew Hoopes met in elementary school. When the Christian band’s self-titled debut disc emerged in 2000, acts like MxPx, P.O.D. and Switchfoot had already paved the way for crossing over to the secular world. A few years later, the K claimed several hit singles on Christian pop radio (“Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” broached the mainstream top 40 chart in 2005), MTV airplay, three consecutive gold records, Dove Awards and a Grammy nomination. Producer du jour Howard Benson helmed 2007’s slick, yet solid Five Score and Seven Years Ago, containing Beach Boys-styled harmonies and an epic tune about a dying man looking back at his life. More recently, the quintet released The Birds and the Bee Sides, a sprawling odds ‘n’ sods collection veering from ska to alt-country sounds and beyond.
Relient K, Owl City, Runner Runner at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, www.theglasshouse.us; Tuesday, May 26, 7PM, $15 advance, $17 day of show.