Friday, July 11, 2008

Hymns, Visitors at Mohawk

There is a sparse crowd at Mohawk tonight, and I wonder who they are here to see...I must admit I don't know who I am here to see. On the bill: Hymns, Gabe Hascall, and the Visitors. All I know is I saw the word 'acoustic' and I fell for it. Acoustic is one of the most terrifying words in music. At its worst it can be painstakingly embarrassing for all parties involved (audience included), but at its best a performance can unfold into a perfect translation of those emotional things under the surface.

So, you can imagine my surprise when the Hymns came out first and cranked out an indie folk jam with not one but two electric guitars, a bass player, and a drummer. They leaned into their mics, they coaxed the stage, and they played as if the timid onlookers were not forming a dreaded half circle in the room.

Their sound is a blend of rock, folk, and jazz, which at times paints an upbeat melody or halts to a guitar solo which make their voices stand out. Lead singer, Brian Harding, has the perfect voice to give the melodies a rougher edge. His voice is a little worn, a little hardened (probably from trying to make it in Brooklyn,) and it rubs against the music like sandpaper.
True to the bill, the next two acts were actually acoustic. However, they were completely different genres of acoustic. Gabe Hascall sang his set of acoustic songs by strumming his guitar and spilling sensitive lyrics, while the Visitors played tightly knit chords (written for a full band) acoustically.

Gabe stood squarely in front of the mike and played candidly, even pulling out a set list at one point to read from. Most of his songs abided by a limited number of chords he used to compliment his melancholy lyrics. Highlights were "Wearable" and "I Feel Today," in which the variance in speed perked up the lyrics. Overall, it was a nice set, which taps into the gut-tugging feeling acoustic is all about.

The Visitors perched on stools and played their guitars in synchronization, creating a steady flow of melodies. However, what started out as a soothing strum, stayed a soothing strum, and never really changed. What's more is that the guitars rolled over the lyrics to the point where I had trouble grabbing just a few words, diminishing the poetic quality of an acoustic set. They wound down the night, but I would have preferred that they had started the night (with the rest of their band), and let the Hymns rock out last. You can catch Hymns at Momo's on July 17th.


Anonymous said...

hey, good job!