Smallpools at Exit/In in Nashville, TN

Smallpools @ Exit/In, Nashville | Photo by Gary Johnson

The indie-pop band Smallpools ends the first half of their LIFE IN A SIMULATION tour in Nashville, TN, at the historical Exit/In.

Moody Joody opened the night with tons of energy. They’re a Nashville-native alt-rock girl duo including Kayla Hall and Kaitie Forbes. They opened with “The Heat,” an upbeat song that mixes 80s synths and drums with romanticized lyrics about “the heat” of the moment. Their music tends to be built on this mix of spacious 80s synths and fuzzy guitar licks, which makes a new wave-meets-future pop style. This is also true for songs such as “I Feel Everything” and “L.A. Anyway,” which they included in their set. About halfway through their performance, they played their newest single “Talk It Out.” They followed with “Villain” and ended their set with their most popular song “Lockeland.” Upbeat and high energy, the song ended with a modulation and an electric solo from guitarist Andrew Pacheco.

The night continued with Los Angeles-based, indie pop artist Morgan Karr, better known by his stage name Morgxn. On stage by himself, Karr started his set with a beautifully sung acapella, followed by “PORCELAIN.” After going so long without live music, he stated that he wanted to bring it back to an intimate moment together with the audience. Karr continued on his Nord with “DON’T THINK ABOUT IT” and a cover of Jimmy Eats World’s “The Middle.” Morgxn just released his second EP MERIDIAN: Vol. 2 last week, from which he plays “BURDEN.”

At the halfway point in Karr’s set, he explains that the pandemic took a lot from him, including a record deal. But in the midst of so much confusion and uncertainty, he released “WONDER” by himself and got 85 million streams. After speaking about such a breakthrough, he invited GRAMMY® award-nominated artist Cassadee Pope to the stage and sang this song with all of their hearts. Karr ended his set with his most streamed song “Home,” to which the whole crowd sang along.

To the cheers and screams of an entire room, Smallpools walk on stage to begin their set of their last day of this leg of the tour. They open strong with “No Story Time,” followed by “Stumblin’ Home” and “Passenger Side,” two of their most popular songs. The crowd didn’t hesitate to sing along and dance to the beat.

The four-part band came packed with tunes and their own light show. With LED lights in the shape of a broken-up triangle, they didn’t miss a beat. Singer Sean Scanlon compares the recent pandemic to “a kid playing a game and turning the disaster settings to 100.” They continue their set with “Ancient History,” “American Love,” and “Life of the Party.” The first and third of those are from their latest album LIFE IN A SIMULATION. The next song was “Mother,” which began with Scanlon on the keys. At the end of the song, they seamlessly transition into a short cover of “Creep” by Radiohead. The setlist continued and when they got to “Lovetap!” Scanlon put on a mask and walked into the crowd during the bridge. The crowd absolutely lost their minds and that’s when the real party started. Every soul in the room was jumping, dancing, and singing along. They followed up with “Simulation,” the first song from their latest album, and transitioned into a cover of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”

Before the pop band continued with “Killer Whale,” they threw a blow-up balloon in the shape of a whale into the crowd and everyone tossed it around in excitement. They continued with the popular song “Million Bucks,” but not before choosing a random person in the audience to throw him a tambourine during the song and practicing the throw. Everyone sang along with Sean and the tambourine throw was executed perfectly right before the bridge. They end the set with the catchy crowd favorite “Dreaming.”

The band exited the stage and without hesitation, the audience was begging for more. Smallpools returned with Morgxn and they sang “A Whole New World.” The actual encore consisted of “slowdown” which Smallpools and Morgxn sang together. Afterward, Karr left the stage and Scanlon ended the night with “Mason Jar.”

The first leg of the LIFE IN A SIMULATION tour is complete, but Smallpools will return on the road in February of next year. Make sure to check if they’re visiting your city! The band’s second album, LIFE IN A SIMULATION, is out now.

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About Gary Johnson 12 Articles
Gary is a portrait and music photographer based in Nashville, TN. His love for music began at an early age, so much so that he got his degree in Music Business. But along the way, he fell in love with photography–capturing the intimate moments in our lives.