Maybe Bomb @ Architekt Music

BUTLER, NJ—About an hour out from show time, a line was beginning to wrap around the brick walls and down the sidewalk of North Jersey’s, Architekt Music. Hoodie and leather jacket-clad fans of solo electro-pop musician, Maybe Bomb, otherwise known as John Penola, were the individuals responsible for crowding around the front door of the venue. This event was held in celebration of the new release from the artist, entitled Dotted Lines And Whispers, which he recorded at Architekt some time before. Upon entering, attendees were given a Dropcard on a lanyard, not only as a memento commemorating the show, but for an access card to download the entire record. Around Penola, who was donning a purple dress shirt and black tie for the occasion with his live band wearing the opposite, the excitement was electric. Maybe Bomb mingled with friends and fans as they shuffled in, filling empty spaces on the hardwood flooring of the standing area.

After a short wait, the band took to the small stage that was still void of lights as the instrumental intro track played and the anticipation grew. An array of colors barraged the viewer’s line of sight from all angles as the second song, “Fingerprints In The Sand,” began, but it was the energy put forth by Maybe Bomb that was the impressive factor in the performance. Aside from his addictive beats and melodies, it’s John Penola’s one-of-a-kind voice that captivates and is his signature. The musicians playing along with Maybe Bomb for support seemed to be equally as enthralled with the music, feeding off each other’s vibes. In the middle of the show, he stated that the theme of the record was that of dreams, how we come in and out of them.

Live drums boomed along with the keys and synth elements on the moving number that is “Blink.” Before jumping into his performance of this cut, Penola declared that the track was for the women in his life, meaning his sister, mother, and grandmother, all of whom were in attendance. The lyrics of this song seemingly describe a wistful longing to preserve loved ones proclaimed in a catchy melody over a sonically weighted chorus. As the show continued on, the audience remained responsive, clapping along with honest vivacity under heavy bass and shifting lights. The ever-enthused Maybe Bomb did not stop moving, hardly taking a pause from his head-banging to come up for air.

“Some Other Day,” the sixth track in the set, was slowed down, enchanting and utterly hypnotic. Listeners could not help but to bob their heads along to the otherworldly beats that were, before their eyes, woven into this live rendition. Penola thanked his guests repeatedly for being there for him at this monumental showcasing of his material. A fan favorite called, “Take A Picture,” reigned as one of the supremely memorable songs that were performed. Ethereal, melodic, and with vivid depth, this number from the musician rang out clearly, reaching its peak with a precise breakdown. “First Light” is the second instrumental piece on the album, a soundscape to waking up, bringing the dream cycle concept full circle.

The final notes of the last songs on the record were played and the house lights came back on as cheers erupted from the crowd. Maybe Bomb’s satisfaction was apparent, as he invited everyone at the venue to join him afterward at a local bar to celebrate. John Penola walked around, personally thanking audience members for coming out, receiving praise and pats on the back all around. Maybe Bomb played through the entirety of his latest, Dotted Lines And Whispers, without ever leaving room for a dull sonic moment.