Hop Along + Bat Fangs @ Le Belmont – 2nd June 2018

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Hop Along Belmont

Having discovered Philadelphia’s Hop Along themselves as a result of them opening for Built To Spill back in 2016, I feel obliged, in turn, to make the effort to arrive early to hear out their openers tonight. In this case, it’s Washington DC trio Bat Fangs, and I realize quite quickly that this was a good decision.

bat fangs band

Their garage punk sound is reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney, and frontwoman Betsy Wright mirrors mid-1990s Justine Frischmann of Elastica. After a blazing Bad Astrology, drummer Laura King chips in on vocal duties on Heartbeat to raise the volume even more. The set closes out after 30 minutes with a blazing Fangs Out.

bat fangs montreal
hop along montreal

Hop Along have been slipping under most people’s radar for a while now, but having just released their 4th full-length Bark Your Head Off, Dog, people seem to be finally catching on. The first song we heard from that record, the wonderful How Simple, is the catchiest song you’ll hear all year, guaranteed, and it’s testament to a band’s confidence that they can play that right off the bat to start the set, without fearing that chunks of the crowd will drift off after they’ve heard their favorite song. Yep, I’ve seen that before, but thankfully, it doesn’t happen tonight. And how could it? It sounds absolutely phenomenal live, the dance-beat drums igniting the party and everyone is into the show immediately. There’s no way you could leave at this point! After the excellent Kids On The Boardwalk from the 2012 Get Disowned record, another ultra-catchy song arrives in the form of Texas Funeral, laden with perfect hooks.

hop along montreal belmont

Frontwoman Frances Quinlan takes the time to thank the sizeable Belmont crowd for giving their Saturday nights to them. Someone in the crowd responds “come to the afterparty!!!” Frances politely feigns interest: “oh yeah?” The person in the crowd gets excited: “yeah it’s at [she actually yells out her address]. Please come, it’s 2 blocks from here!” Everyone laughs, and before Frances has to awkwardly refuse the invitation, the band dive into new song Fox In Motion, another choice cut from the new record that truly showcases Frances’ unique voice, smooth as silk for the most part but capable of turning gravelly and grungy at the drop of a hat.

hop along live review

Powerful Man is yet another massively catchy number, before things get altogether moodier on I Saw My Twin, which starts with just Frances on guitar, until the drums and guitar crash the party midway through. The Look Of Love follows a similar pattern, rounding off in almost complete darkness except for a few dim bulbs hanging around the stage.

hop along concert photos

Not Abel is another highlight from the new record and is very reminiscent of Built To Spill, those tour buddies from 2016. After beginning with more angelic vocals from Frances, the song completely reinvents itself into a classic indie strum, which is met with a massive cheer from the crowd. After Frances declares “thanks so much, we will most definitely be back!”, the synthy intro and delicate guitars of Prior Things finish the main set.

hop along photos

The encore begins with Well-Dressed and a mellow solo start from Frances which soon escalates into 3 guitars playing 3 different notes in stunning harmony. The music drops out altogether at the end, leaving just Frances and the crowd to sing the “do do do” outro together, and it sounds fantastic, anthemic. The blazing strobe lights of The Knock and Tibetan Pop Stars (complete with a massive singalong from the now-delirious crowd) close out the show for good after 85 wonderful minutes. Frances herself mentioned during the show: “we drove a super long way to be here, and it’s super fun to play for you, so it was worth it!” Yep, it seems like Frances enjoyed herself every bit as much as we did.

hop along black & white

Set List

1. How Simple
2. Kids On The Boardwalk
3. Texas Funeral
4. Fox In Motion
5. Somewhere A Judge
6. Powerful Man
7. I Saw My Twin
8. Look Of Love
9. What The Writer Meant
10. Not Abel
11. Prior Things

Encore

12. Well-Dressed
13. The Knock
14. Tibetan Pop Stars

Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Jean-Michel Lacombe

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