A psychedelic experience at the Paper Tiger

Inner Wave’s ‘Jukebox Tour’ wows in San Antonio

Cesar Soto, Staff Writer

Rating: 4/5 stars

Coming to San Antonio as part of their “Jukebox Tour,” psychedelic-indie band Inner Wave brought a dreamlike experience to the Paper Tiger on Feb. 23, continuing a great year of shows.

Opening the show was the California-based artist Junior Mesa. Four musicians accompanied the alternative-indie musician to complete his band, and they all brought great liveliness to the set. Not only did they perform upbeat and bouncy tracks, but they were able to fluidly shift their tone throughout to a more understated sound. A highlight of their performance was having the band play out an instrumental track that was beautifully ethereal with their use of keys and unique guitar tones. With the amount of chemistry the five members had, they were having a blast and set an ideal start for the night.

The following opener was bedroom pop artist Jordana, who introduced laid-back energy to the room that the audience enjoyed. The Kansas-based vocalist also brought her own band that played top-notch guitar solos throughout to enhance her vocals; however, her lyrics full of introspective feelings were what commanded the stage. She was extremely friendly with the crowd, expressing a love for them that they returned with all of their cheers.

The night’s headliners, Inner Wave, capped off the night at the Paper Tiger in front of a neon logo that flashed so brightly you could see it from the bar in the back. The band played a mix of songs from their discography, with the first few playing one right after another. “Take 3” started the show, followed by “Oof,” “Bower” and “Eclipse,” all being popular songs for the band.

The Latino five-piece set out to create the ultimate experience for fans. They had some of the best lighting setups you will ever see live, with two large vertical lights situated on each side of the stage. Each aspect of lighting was utilized in every song, timing with the instruments and changing colors to reflect the emotion each track of theirs would evoke. In one instance, white lights flashed rapidly, creating a silhouette of lead vocalist Pablo Sotelo. 

The Los Angeles band also features members Jean Pierre Narvaez on bass, Jose Cruz on keys, Luis Portillo on drums and Elijah Trujillo on guitar. They were excellent at bringing out both a psychedelic side of their music with reverbs and synths, as well as an indie side with guitar solos and drum patterns. 

Highlights of the set included “Estrella,” some of the band’s finest psychedelic work with a heavy synth intro and reverb vocals from Sotelo. The band also asked fans at the show to vote for a song they would add to the night’s setlist with “Blacklight” being the top choice. The crowd recognized it as the winner from its first moment of infectious guitar riffs. They additionally brought out opening act Jordana to perform their joint track, “Baby,” where the band hilariously threw out an Elmo piñata into the crowd.

The show winded down with tracks like “Rose,” another groovy song of theirs, and “American Spirits,” their most streamed song with such infectious positivity and nostalgic feelings of happiness. With the crowd loudly clamoring the band back on stage for an encore, they played a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” before wrapping up with a perfect fan favorite pairing of “1 4 2” and “Song 3,” as the smoke and lighting gradually faded away with the band leaving the stage to loud applause.

Inner Wave, one of the most innovative bands in the psychedelic genre, put on a terrific experience for their fans. It is that much more of an inspiration for those here in San Antonio that they are a Latino band from L.A. that has worked hard for years to get to this point.