By Schae Beaudoin
WHUS’s spring concert brought pop punk band The Hotelier to the University of Connecticut’s Student Union Ballroom Saturday night in an intimate setting, along with indie-pop bands Florist and Joy Again.
“Wanna just start?”About 160 people attended the show, filling the floor with Converse, Doc Marten’s and Vans. The Hotelier’s brand of thumping pop punk caused heads to bob – not quite headbang – and feet to stomp through the band’s set. Fans screamed the lyrics to the songs “Your Deep Rest” and the appropriately titled opener “An Introduction to the Album.”
“Wanna just start?” vocalist and guitarist Christian Holden casually said as the band took the stage. Holden wailed on the brink of screaming through most songs. Some concertgoers jumped around, threw their hands up and threw their bodies around to the Worchester, MA-based band’s self-described “anti-pop.”
The Hotelier’s emotional lyrics and driving rhythm section tap into angst and sadness, allowing a release for the crowd. “I called in sick from your funeral/The sight of your body made me uncomfortable,” Holden shouted during “Your Deep Rest.”
The band also played an unreleased song titled “Sun” from their upcoming album Goodness. The song is over six-and-a-half minutes long and explores a more mellow side of the band. “Sun” represents more of a slow build, from quiet to loud, and clean to distorted, than a flat-out driving rock song.
Other bands on the bill included Florist and Joy Again.
Florist is an indie band based out of the Catskill Mountains area of New York. The band was without their drummer Felix Walworth for the time being while they are on tour with the experimental band Eskimeaux, but Florist used synth percussion as a substitute in some songs.
“We’re trying the no drums things for a little bit while Felix is on tour and it makes us so chill,” vocalist and guitarist Emily Sprague said during the band’s set, met with laughs from the audience.
Florist’s indie-pop is very calm and simplistic. Soft guitar complemented by synth as a backbone, as opposed to drumming, made for a relaxed environment in the Student Union Ballroom. The soft glow of a few yellow lights behind the band made it hard to see anything but their silhouettes.
Some audience members sat on the ground cross legged. Others near the front of the stage sang quietly, almost just mouthing the words, providing a contrast to the jumping and screaming during The Hotelier.
“Thank you so much for being quiet and listening. This is amazing,” Sprague said during the band’s set. A few fans shouted “thank you!” in response.
While the audience’s reaction to Florist was much different than the reaction to The Hotelier, the bands themselves explore similar topics of fear and angst.
“Inside my head/I’m a child again/But there’s a pill for that/And I’ll pray to death,” Sprague sings over an ambient synth organ in the song “The Birds Outside Sang,” from the band’s most recent album of the same name.
“I’m going fishing with my dad this weekend so I’m excited about that,” Sprague said in between songs. “Where?!” shouted an audience member, which led to a short back-and-forth between the two about Sprague fishing with her father in upstate New York.
Joy Again from Philadelphia, PA brought their oddball indie-pop as the show’s opening band.
The band’s bouncing guitars, underlaid synth and intentionally imperfect vocals kicked off the show and quickly had a small group of students to the side of the stage pogoing and dancing.
Joy Again gave off the vibe of a band practicing in a garage as opposed to performing for an audience. The onstage banter was casual and rarely directed towards the audience. The end to most songs felt abrupt, the audience always pausing a few moments to decide whether or not to applaud, as they weren’t sure if the song was actually over.
Overall, the venue of the Student Union Ballroom provided the audience of mostly off-beat UConn students the opportunity to be intimately connected to the bands on stage for one Saturday night.