It’s always a treat to catch a young band with potential. Smallpools is one of those acts not too far past its embryonic stage, but with a high ceiling for success.
Just a year and a half ago, Smallpools was riding the wave of its catchy, synth-driven single “Dreaming,” which was embraced by satellite radio, even though they had yet to release an album. When the band – which crafts optimistic, quirky, danceable pop (a la Passion Pit) – opened for Twenty One Pilots last year, “Dreaming” reached the 23rd slot on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart.
“Things went so well for us last year,” vocalist-keyboardist Sean Scanlon says while calling from Brooklyn. “It just happened so fast and we know that’s not how it normally goes.”
Smallpools was a big attraction at South by Southwest last month, headlining the IFC stage at the massive Austin, Texas, music conference. There the group jammed in front of about 5,000 fans.
They’ve also proven themselves as a live act – which isn’t a given in this microwavable, instant-success era for bands, which can sometimes chart out of nowhere. Smallpools’ sound is crisper now, and Scanlon is much more adept at engaging the audience.
“It’s been an unreal experience,” Scanlon says. “We’ve learned so much by being on the road. We’re taking gradual steps.”
Smallpools, which will showcase its debut album “Lovetap!” Friday at the Haw River Ballroom, has another catchy pop-rock tune scaling the Alternative charts – the sweet, hook-laden love song “Karaoke.”
It’s not surprising Scanlon has a way with pop narratives, considering what he was exposed to as a child. He grew up just outside of New York City and was influenced by some of the greatest songwriters of all time.
“I remember when I was a kid,” Scanlan says. “My parents would have Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon on all the time. I wasn’t really paying attention, but when I finally looked back, I realized how great their songs are. They’re great storytellers. I eventually studied what they did. I write our band’s lyrics and it’s what’s most challenging. I’m about getting that right with the music, since I want our music to last.”