I first saw Diners in October 2017 at The Red Raven Café in Fargo, North Dakota. When I saw “them,” it was actually only frontman Tyler Broderick. Depending on the night, Broderick is joined by Tristan Jemsek, Cesar Ruiz, Jill Cook, Robert Raya, Christian Reeb, or Aaron Ponzo. Diners, an indie-pop group from Phoenix, Arizona, took the stage after a few local bands played for a very welcoming audience and it was truly a spectacle. Calling the performance his “Halftime Show,” Broderick spent the entire set relating it to sports and drinking gatorade.
Broderick performed next to a projector screen which frequently showed himself in the same outfit. He would interact with himself at times, and at others it would serve as a sort of background. After talking to Broderick a couple months later, he told me that he had been “a little too jacked up on iced coffee before [his] set.” This makes a whole lot more sense, as Broderick never stood still for a second. At one point he picked up his electric guitar only to play one chord along with the backtrack and then set it back down.
If you need proof of how ridiculous the entire experience was, here’s a photo of me in the crowd looking extremely nervous.
Despite being a rather rambunctious young man, Diners’ music has a certain calming effect that is difficult to find elsewhere. The vocals are raw and flawed but hold a special personality that makes them seem better than any other vocal performance. The music and lyrics have a purity in them that makes listening simply a pleasure. Broderick repeats the line, “I was fifteen on a skateboard/skating through the neighborhood” – an obviously simple lyric – on the track “Fifteen on a Skateboard” without invoking a sense of repetitiveness. When combined with Broderick’s inventive instrumentals and the dreamy, nostalgic feel that is captured so well with his use of different sounds and back-up vocals, the simple, straightforward lyrics are transformed into something else. I didn’t ride a skateboard when I was fifteen, but I bet if I did this song is what it would have felt like.
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June’s Artist To Watch: Diners. Featured image credit: Elmer Martin