Wednesday night is a tough night for many. You’re halfway through the week, and Friday is still a bit further in the future than you might like. Thankfully, there’s nothing like some great live music to take your mind away from that midweek slump. In the relatively dark, basement-like venue in the downstairs portion of The Cake Shop, I found Franklin Hoier, of Crushed Out. Franklin informed me that Sweet Spirit would be performing before them, and that they’re not an act to miss. With that news, and with my excitement building, Sweet Spirit took the stage. The stage was relatively small for a group of six, with their instruments, but they managed it with grace.
From the get-go, Sweet Spirit captivated me with their tight rock ‘n’ roll grooves and their blazing energy. It was clear that they were having fun on stage, which made them even more entertaining to watch. The audience was drawn in by their natural charisma, and was ready to share in their good time. Opening with “Poor” gave them momentum, and allowed them to display their strength as a group. They even dropped into cut time toward the end of the song, which always excites me. Their timing was absolutely impeccable. Sweet Spirit continued to show personality throughout their set as they joked around between songs. The riffs were sharp and the drums were prominent, with a funky edge. The synthesizer was a great addition to the sound but didn’t overpower it in any way. During “Someone Like You,” they showed off their vocal harmonies and allowed the bass to really shine. The classic rock sound, with a strong, yet unique breakdown really propelled the set. I was constantly impressed with how rhythmic they were as a unit. Even as the song built and shifted, they kept the rhythm tight and the groove consistent.
Another favorite from Sweet Spirit’s set was “Let Me Be On Top,” which allowed, lead singer, Sabrina Ellis’ voice to soar. Her harmonies with guitarist, Andrew Cashen were spot on and sung with passion. The melody was happy and upbeat, as the lyrics were sexualized and fun. The old school riff supported the solos, and the drummer gave us a taste of his skills through his epic fills. The true highlight of their set was “Party.” The catchy and highly energized tune allowed Sabrina to enter the crowd, increasing the excitement in the audience. It was obvious that these musicians are extremely skilled as they repeated the lyrics “take me to the party,” in harmony as the pitch elevated each successive time. Not only is that hard to do, but on a small stage in a crowded room, they held their own, and the harmonies were spot on. By the end of their set, they had the audience, myself included, chanting for “one more song!”
I was very excited when Crushed Out entered the stage. As I interviewed the dynamic duo of Franklin Hoier and Moselle Spiller a few weeks prior, I felt personally connected to them and their music. Opening with “Early In The Morning” from their newest album, Teeth, let the audience know, right away, that they were about to be transported back in time. The vintage surf-rock sound permeated through the walls of The Cake Shop. Franklin Hoier’s smooth voice soared beautifully over the relaxing instrumental melody. His slide guitar playing was even better live than I ever imagined. Moselle held down the drum kit with such spunk and pizazz. As the set progressed, they played a few selections from their previous album, Want To Give, including an audience favorite, “Temper Tantrum.” Before beginning to play the track, Franklin said, “I’d like to dedicate this song to all adults who act like children. This song is dedicated to New York!” The bluesy riff, accompanied by the accented off beats, reeled me in immediately. Franklin continued to impress me with his vocal range.
One of my favorite moments from Crushed Out’s set was “Two Lovebirds.” I enjoy the track on the album, but there was a whole new essence about it, hearing it live on stage. Franklin introduced the song by saying: “To love how you wanna love, you gotta be an outlaw… This is for all you outlaw lovebirds out there!” His poetic spoken moments were personal, but they also provided us, as the audience, with a means to understand where he was coming from when he wrote the songs. This enriched the whole experience of seeing Crushed Out live. There is a distinct depth to their music, and it translated well from the album to the stage. When Moselle joined in on the harmonies, the song became overwhelmingly lovely and sweet. She also managed to play the maracas interchangeably with the drum kit. This duo is multi-talented, and creates such a wonderfully full sound with only two people.
Crushed Out played us a new track called “Cool Clear Water,” which has a bluegrass vibe. I loved how Franklin used his falsetto in this song. There were also elements of blues and rock ‘n’ roll present in this track, which were exhibited at different moments, giving it a well-rounded feeling. This only continued to prove what Franklin told me weeks ago: “we’re never going to be that one genre band. We’re just going to go where the music takes us.” They capped off their set with a cover of “She’s Alright” by one of their biggest musical influences, Bo Diddley. As Franklin sang Diddley’s lyrics, he added his own flair to it as he sang, “Moselle, I’ll never let you go!” The sincerity and love they have for each other was apparent in my interview with them, but it was even more apparent as I watched them on stage. Their “effortless musical connection,” that Franklin spoke about during the interview, was obvious. It’s a beautiful thing to do what you love with the person you love.
Article: Alex Feigin