Concert Reviews

Over The Weekend: HYMNS, OK Sweetheart at Hailey's

HYMNS, OK Sweetheart, My Empty Phantom
Hailey's Club
October 9, 2009

Better Than:
sitting at home on a Friday night

Playing to an unfortunately minuscule but, nonetheless, quite enthusiastic crowd on Friday night at Hailey's, HYMNS proved it knows how to have a good time.

Even after a 10-day tour through Texas, the band, promoting its latest album, Appaloosa, still more than matched its crowd's enthusiasm, urging the audience to inch closer to the stage if they wanted to really enjoy the full concert experience.

This much has to be said, though: Although the enthusiasm is much appreciated, the audience may have gotten nauseous from watching band member Jason Roberts dart, shake and bob his body back and forth across the stage. Thankfully, any any actual nausea proved fleeting: Despite a bit too much movement, the band's funky guitar beats and beautiful vocal harmonies made for a fun, classic rock time at Hailey's.

Maybe it wasn't just nausea the crowd felt in the pits of its stomachs, though. Maybe it was camaraderie? That, after all, seemed the theme of the night. In fact, HYMNS joined opening act OK Sweetheart, the musical project of Denton's almost-ACL-billed Erin Austin, in a jam session toward the beginning of the night. Talk about friendly times.

In her own performance, Austin used her soulful, jazzy voice to woo the crowd with her lyrics about love, death and all the liars and manipulators of the world. Can you say female empowerment? Unfortunately, the band only played a handful of songs; it hasn't yet released an album either. (Austin said that goal should hopefully be reached in early 2010.)

Maybe being new to the Denton scene got the best of Austin, though. Although a crisp singer, she somehow managed to mispronounce the name of her band, and couldn't even remember whether it had a Web site when she tried her hand at onstage promotion. Oh well. With a voice like that and a charming personality to boot, I guess she could be forgiven.

Rounding out the night was My Empty Phantom, a one-man show created by musician and composer Jesse Beaman, which mixed haunting piano play with heavy drum beats.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I usually favor female lead singers and songwriters. Their lyrics are like therapy for all women everywhere.

By the Way:
Brian Harding and Jason Roberts of the HYMNS grew up together in North Carolina.

Random Note: OK Sweetheart lived up to its cutesy name, decorating its merch table with white and red Christmas lights and two tiny suitcases filled with neatly arranged T-shirts. Sweet, huh?

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