Posted on March 5, 2023
On Thursday, February 23rd, Portland-based band Reptalienscaptivated concert-goers at the UC Theatre in Berkeley. Reptaliens created a surreal atmosphere that made everyone in the theatre feel the music throughout their bodies. They opened for STRFKR and came second in the lineup behind one-man band Das Kope at one of this year’s Noise Pop Festival concerts. The synth pop and dreamlike music, coupled with lead singer and bassist — Bambi Browning’s — soft, sweet lyrics proved to get the audience moving. In addition to Bambi’s talents, the band consists of keyboard player and guitarist Cole Browning, lead guitarist Julian Kowalski, and drummer Thomas Mabus — who I spent most of my time watching due to his effortless playing. Immediately upon Reptaliens gracing the stage and exploding into the first song of the set, I felt weightless as the bass heavy groove consumed me— as if I was floating above it all.
I have been following Reptaliens all over the Bay Area, and this concert marked my fifth time seeing them in a little over a year. Although I appreciate when fans sing along to the songs, there is always room for new ones and this night was no exception. I looked around the general admission pit and took note of how diverse the crowd was that night — college students and older adults alike enjoyed the dreamy drone of the music. I also realized how many of the concert-goers staring at the stage were hearing this band for the very first time. Reptaliens never disappoint with their performance and this set consisted of a healthy mix of both new and old songs— and the crowd clearly gravitated towards the older music. With the 2022 release of their newest album, Multiverse, Reptaliens have solidified their ethereal sound. This album was written and recorded during the COVID-19 quarantine, which seemed to influence the album as there are songs that mention “lounging around like dogs” and “running out of drugs to do.”
Reptaliens’ eccentric playing and sounds were not the only reason why everyone’s eyes were glued to the stage. A common practice at their concerts is for a friend of Reptaliens, the illustrious KC, to run around and do an interpretive dance in a number of over the top costumes. In total, there were five costume changes including a swamp monster, a poodle (complete with a leash and paws), and a giant eyeball. KC made sure to wear outfits that blended with the songs, such as the poodle costume during “Like A Dog.” With every outrageous costume change, a sea of phones went up to capture it, all accompanied by enthusiastic cheering that fed into the already high energy in the room. As a freezing cold and rainy front swept across the Bay Area, Reptaliens’ performance of classic songs like “If You Want” and “Echo Park” spread warmth throughout the concert hall.
As people began to file out into the rain after STRFKR finished their extraordinary set, I saw many stop by the Reptaliens merch table to interact with Bambi and Cole. Although the KALX library has over 115K pieces of music, we only have one Reptaliens album, Valis, so I decided to buy the FM-2030 album for the library since many of the most popular songs are on it. After a conversation with guitarist Cole, during which he recalled seeing me at a previous concert in Santa Cruz and appreciated my continued support of Reptaliens, he managed to convince the rest of the band to sign the CD that I had just purchased. With a thank you from Bambi and KC, a hug goodbye from Cole, and a free poster of the show from the UC Theatre staff, I left the venue with an enthusiastic feeling that Reptaliens will soon fly their UFO back to the Bay.