In concert

Capital Cities: Still safe and sound

 
Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant

The majority of the fans filling Sunrise’s BB&T Center and Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday and Thursday to see pop superstar Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour didn’t purchase their tickets because of her opening act, Capital Cities.

But most of the people in the audience probably know and love the hit song that made it possible for Capital Cities to be there in the first place — the breezy, feel-good, electropop smash Safe and Sound, whose video has scored more than 100 million views on YouTube and which still gets significant Top 40 radio airplay more than three years after its release.

For the L.A. band’s dual frontmen, Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant — day-job jingle writers with bigger dreams who met on Craigslist — that one song has been a career game-changer.

“One song,” says Merchant, still sounding a little giddy at the wonder of it all. “It gave us a complete 180-degree turn. And I hope it’s timeless and gets played on the radio for the next 30 years.”

The video for Safe and Sound, which playfully chronicles the history of dance over the past century, features Merchant and Simonian showing off some pretty nifty and nimble steps (yes, they took dance lessons to prepare). So will they bust a move during their opening sets?

“Yeah, we’re pretty good, actually,” Merchant says. “We’ll each have a couple of moments that are choreographed, although it’s not gonna be quite as choreographed as the video, because that had a bunch of professional dancers.”

Capital Cities will get only about 35 minutes to perform, but the group is planning to make the most of it.

“We’ve put together a pretty concise set of what we think are our strongest songs,” says Merchant. “Every night is gonna be us trying to win over two audiences, so we have to do something that’s compelling. We’re gonna have a very interactive set with the crowd and interesting outfits — it’s gonna be a very colorful, tight little set.”

You’re guaranteed to hear Safe and Sound, plus the minor hits Kangaroo Court and One Minute More. But Capital Cities is also known for performing interesting cover songs, such as Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U.

“We might throw that one into the set, but more likely it’ll be our cover of Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees,” says Merchant. “We feel like that cover might be a little more accessible to the crowd, because there will be a lot of younger females, I suppose, because of the demographic that follows Katy Perry.

“And we like to cover songs that have not been covered by a lot of other bands.”

Capital Cities’ version of the ’70s disco classic is a bit different from the Brothers Gibbs’, however.

“We slowed it down a little bit,” says Merchant, “and it turned into a slightly moodier song. It comes across as a happy-go-lucky song, but the lyrics have kind of a weight to them, and we tried to highlight that.”

Capital Cities opens for Katy Perry at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the BB&T Center, 1 Panther Pkwy., Sunrise; and 7 p.m. Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; Ticketmaster; $25.25-$128.50.

Michael Hamersly

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