It was a beautiful hot Wednesday evening, as fans lined up around the corner of the Warsaw eagerly awaiting the night’s acts. But the warmth outside would pale in comparison to the heat generated by Speedy Ortiz and Hop Along.
Kicking off the night was Silver Spring, Maryland’s own Two Inch Astronaut. When this trio started playing my first thought was, “Hmmmm, sounds like Weezer without the irreverence.” But that changed quickly as Sam Rosenberg’s fuzzy droning guitars kept ratcheting up a notch with each song. By the end of their set, featuring a more rage filled attacking sound, I felt like I was listening to more of the angst-driven grunge of my youth. This is a trio to keep your eye out for.
Next up was the band I was most excited to see, Hop Along. And I wasn’t the only one. I’m not sure that, in recent memory, I’ve seen a crowd convulse with excitement at a show like this night’s attendees did. It was like watching a Pentecostal preacher expel their demons as they vibrated and shook every time she opened her mouth. I first fell in love with lead singer Frances Quinlan’s voice when I discovered their single “Happy to See Me” last year. Quinlan’s voice is, for my money, the most interesting in rock at this moment. There is a tortured grit to Quinlan’s voice as you keep expecting it to crack as her vocals intensify. But it never does, instead it always teeters on the edge.
I also didn’t’ expect such a furious set from Hop Along as they played most of the songs off their excellent album Painted Shut this night. That album is chock-full of an American storytelling vibe that has a folksy quality to it. But presented live it takes on another feel. A destructive thrashing sound that only brings a heightened sense of drama when she chants “None of this is gonna happen to me” and you can feel the crowd imbued with a new sense of self-confidence as Quinlan guides them along.
Right before their final track, they launched into a cover of Nirvana’s sappy where all the band mates switched instruments. Quinlan called this surprise the best the band has ever played. And no looked happier for this moment than drummer Mark Quinlan who let it all loose as he switched places with guitarist Joe Reinhart. Mark Quinlan looked like he’d been let loose, his smile never looking bigger than in that moment. Talk about contrasting looks. Rienhart fuels a driving guitar as his body contorts and twists as he bound across the stage. Mark Quinlan on the other hand looked like a throwback to someone who might’ve cut his teeth in a metal fueled youth.
Hop Along were tight all night long. Their blend of folk tales merged with an almost punk esthetic when live makes them a band that you’ll happily tell your friends, “The albums are great, but wait till you see them live.”
Finishing up the night was band to new to me, but probably shouldn’t have been considering my love for the Hernandez’s fantastic graphic work “Love and Rockets:” Speedy Ortiz out of Northampton, Massachusetts. If you’ve never read “The Death of Speedy,” do yourself and go pick up a copy now.
The band started the night by launching into their single “Taylor Swift,” before ironically having to slow things down. Some problems with their bassist’s setup allowed lead singer Sadie Dupuis to buy time by chatting with audience. She used the moment to talk Wednesday night TV viewing with the crowd. Throwing her weight behind Cookie from “Empire” and using “Law & Order: SVU” to remind the crowd of of a topic you wish that wasn’t something that people would ever need to be reminded of. “Fuck rape culture!” Dupuis stated.
Once the technical issue was solved she began frenetically bouncing across the stage. Her light up kicks highlighting each leap into the air. Speedy Ortiz used their quirky pop fuzzy sound to full effect this night on tracks like “The Graduate” and “Puffer.” The band drives home songs about being the odd one out and finding your own way. Especially thanks to the personal stake Dupuis brings to each tune. But, on a night like this, everyone present belonged and loved it.
Dupuis’ voice has an intriguing dreamlike quality to it, something that suits the abstract nature of their sound. The band mates may have been separated by quite some space on the large Warsaw stage but they more than made up for that with a tight knit sounds as they fed off each other’s play. The band also played a couple of new tracks that were all about Internet porn, or basically the same thing as Sailor Moon, according to Dupuis. Speedy Ortiz were a more low-fi contrast to Hop Along but the two sounds complimented each other on this night. A set of sounds I’ll gladly listen to over and over and over.
Article: Omar Kasrawi