Oxford American Presents Bad Match with Guests, The Coasts

Nestled among countless amps, guitars and a sea of chords, Sarah Stricklin sits in Fellowship Hall Studio, readying herself for rehearsal. In the background, the sound of muted guitars and brash cymbals combine as one by one, band members begin trickling in.

Bad Match, a relatively new group, comes on the scene with a wealth of experience behind it. Stricklin laughs, and says, “We’re pushing maybe twenty other projects between all of us.”

The lineup includes: Ryan Hitt on bass, Mike Motley on drums, Isaac Alexander on keys, Jack Lloyd on guitar, and Sarah Stricklin as the front woman with the pipes.

Recently moving to Little Rock from a spell of living in Austin, Stricklin finds the music community inviting. “I have found that people often want to work together and try different things,” she says. That quality helped prime the setting for Bad Match’s creation.

Stricklin brought the band together slowly, wanting to bring out songs she’d written in the past, but had yet to play. Her writing process often starts with the bass line, an attribute she grants to her father, also a musician.

“I knew I needed a top-notch bassist,” she says. She approached Hitt, and from there, the band organically snowballed, securing a name in late 2014. She had the opportunity to play with each member before in separate projects, and when the group came together, it fit.

“I came to this jumping off point with a handful of songs already in mind, ranging from an idea to just a riff to whole songs. We fleshed out the ideas, worked out the whole songs and then wrote several together … we’re pretty collaborative in the way that we write,” she explains.

When asked about their musical influences, the band members glance at each other, a collective laugh passing through them. “I feel like I want to say everything, but that’s not really true,” says Stricklin. “I would say it changes on a weekly basis,” adds Motley.

Truthfully, after shows the band has heard a wide range of what their fans think they sound like. Their goal, however, is to make good music “straight ahead of rock and roll.”

Under this umbrella, their sound holds an honest fervor that will make you simultaneously dance and yet, contemplative. They’ve created a balance between calculated and loose energy throughout their aesthetic, rooted in the well from which the songs were drawn.

Bad Match provides an outlet to the members to aim for something more raw than you’d find, say, in a funk or soul group.

Their Saturday performance at South on Main is their third live show, and they’re excited to experience the superb quality of sound that comes with the venue. They will also be debuting four brand new songs.

Motley says, “If you think of it in terms of what that venue used to be, I’m glad that it’s open as a performance space and I think that the new folks are really doing it a lot of justice.”

“It sounds really good in there.” Lloyd adds. “Matt and Amy Bell treat all of the band so well over there,” Hitt chimes in.

The doors open at 9:00 p.m. for the $8 cash only show. The Coasts start the set at 10 and Bad Match will start up around 11. Don’t miss it as it’s sure to be a good time. Motley says, “Please come to our show. We’re trying to do something that people will enjoy and have fun with.”

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