“Were you taking photos?”
Ryan Divine of Maldroid asks me this after I approach him at the merch booth after his Thursday night set at Bunkhouse. The lead vocalist tells me he wasn’t sure because he couldn’t see well. “I was trying to be cool,” he jokes, “wearing sunglasses inside.”
Not wearing those cheeky sunglasses would have made it easy for Divine to see me. Less than a dozen people, not counting the four bands on the bill, turned out for the Thursday night show. It also probably would have been safer for Divine, who spent most of the set bouncing around on stage while belting the band’s electropop, a difficult feat best done when you can see where you’re going.
Still, visuals are important. Knowing this has served the Oakland-based band well. Maldroid’s garnered several Internet awards and created quite a buzz since their formation in 2006 by releasing innovative music videos, which include Etch-a-Sketch animation, puzzles with moving images, Lite Brite animation and a beer-bellied robot shooting rainbows from his body.
The band brought the same dorky theatrics to the Bunkhouse with two light-up robot heads, snazzy matching sportcoats and, of course, unnecessary eye protection. While there may not have been much of an audience, the band still performed with plenty of energy. Maybe Divine’s inability to see helped.
According to him, Thursday was the band’s third Vegas appearance. Both previous shows were at the now-defunct Jillian’s, which Divine says was a good venue because it allowed for the under-21 crowd. That demographic encompasses a good portion of their fans, he says, though he prefers bar shows because, well, there’s booze.
Liquor is a good consolation prize when there’s almost no audience, and, hey, we’ll always have the YouTube videos.