Saturday, March 7, 2015

around town: new highway hymnal and hallelujah the hills at the paramount center

i decided to make it a point to see more live music this year (like i used to back in my high school and college days), and i've gotta say, it's greatly improved my life so far. there's just something about the experience of seeing a band -- whether they're local garage rockers or an up-and-coming indie group -- that is so life-affirming and exciting and fun. last night was one such experience that was particularly unique, and i haven't blogged in like, foreva-eva, so i figured i'd write about it.

the show was apparently the first of its kind at this small theatre space in the paramount near downtown crossing in boston. this theatre typically hosts, y'know, plays and artsy performances rather than raucous rock shows, so my buddy brendan and i weren't quite sure what to expect when we passed through the doors and were greeted by a fancy-looking bro that directed us to the show upstairs. the best way i can (and did) describe the venue: "this is like, out of a movie. one of those teen rom-coms where the main characters go to the local hot spot to see some really cool band play." between the exposed brick, the cute makeshift bar in the corner, and little tables with black tablecloths scattered throughout the room, it oozed classiness. i dug it. but onto the show!

new highway hymnal, a local psych-shoegaze-garage trio, opened. i'd seen them open for bass drum of death a couple of years ago and was super-impressed by their musical prowess since they all look soooo young. their songs have all of the things i love: fuzz, distortion, male/female vocals, and great melodies. also, the female bassist was rocking these awesome ripped black tights that i really wish i could pull off in my daily life.

let's talk about the crowd for a second too, because it was kind of weird. it was a mixed bag of emerson students, cutesy couples, and older dudes with beards that rivaled brendan's. we were fascinated with one of these dudes in particular, who was engrossed in his smartphone for much of the night, and made up wild stories about how he was obviously sexting a honey he met on a dating website for grateful dead fans. obviously.

oh, yeah, hallelujah the hills! i'd also seen them once before, and actually discovered them in kind of a strange way. i used to intern for lead singer ryan walsh's brother right before i moved to boston, and he mentioned them after i told him about my plans. i immediately fell in love with their triumphant group vocals, odd lyrics, and songs that you can't help but sing along to, like "wave backwards to massachusetts." they have a super upbeat energy and funny onstage banter; you can just tell they're having a great time. 

at one point, ryan regaled us with a story about how he was on the train during one of the snowpocalypse storms. while trying to point at something, he inadvertently stuck his finger into a stranger's mouth ("full insertion.") he assured us that, even though we were breaking in this new concert space and it might feel a bit strange, nothing could be more awkward than that moment. 

as you can see, they also had this running montage of video clips playing on a screen throughout the show. according to ryan, it was supposed to be a "pink floyd-type thing." trippy, mayne. sometimes it was amusingly distracting, but it certainly added to the whole quirky vibe of the night. 

OH, and i wanted to steal this amazing white light-up arrow that they had onstage (in the bottom right of the picture above). i was eyeing it the whole night and i don't think i can rest until i find it or a reasonable replica. holler at yo' girl if you can assist with this mission.

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