HVOB (Her Voice Over Boys) + UNDERHER Concert Review
I have decided to break my rule: I will not review a concert unless I am invited to by the band/management or the promoter.
I blame it on the Phi Centre, who sent out an email with a very dangerous video link for an upcoming concert with HVOB. There should have been a warning sign: CAUTION: HIGHLY ADDICTIVE
I innocently clicked the linked, and what happened next, was an addiction that will be even harder to shake off, now that I’ve experienced them live.
I bought my ticket after clicking that link, because I was not going to miss this. The day arrives, and I’ve completely forgot about it, but my phone alarm shows: HVOB in 15 minutes! Panic struck, whaaaaat? I change quickly and call an Uber, I’m not looking for parking with this latest snowfall. I then double check, and my alarm was set to when the doors open. I can relax. I arrive around 8h30 PM to an empty room with about 20 others.
At around 9h30 PM, the room is getting thicker with guests. Kalden Bess & Jessica Abruzzese take the center stage to some moody & sultry electronic music much in the same tempo that our main act soon play. This local band had many friends and fans in the audience to cheer them along. From constant selfies at the end of HVOB, it is clear they have gathered some new fans to their collection. Jessica invited us into her mysterious world as guests, as Kalden steered the ship musically. The voyage was atmospheric with peaks that powered the crowd to dance along.
Throughout the set, and even once it ended, I was left with the question: Who was this band? They didn’t announced themselves, and simply walked off after soaking in the love from the crowd at the end of their set. Only after asking Kalden after the show did I find out it was UNDERHER.
Both Trialog (2015) & Silk (2017) are stuck under the Heavy Rotation section of iTunes. My most memorable time listening to both of these albums was escaping to Miami for a week-end and taking a long morning walk on the boardwalk starting in Hallandale Beach. The first notes of Azrael set the mood, and the 120 BPM tempo of the song put an extra spring in my step as I soaked in some much needed sun and got lost in the music among the sea of retirees out for their morning constitutional.
While listening to HVOB, my mind wanders into very creative spaces. I was rehearsing, in my head, portions of a speech I was to give a week later. Synapses firing for the duration of my brisk walk, I felt the music helped relax my mind of the worries of the day to do creative and strategic thinking.
Tonight, we are definitely not in Miami, judging from the mounds of snow on my way to the venue. Tonight’s experience would be, not a solo adventure, but a communal experience by a sold out crowd, connected through an uncontrollable urge to dance along to that 120 BPM groove that connected every song tonight.
Of course, this contagious band has been spreading within my circle of friends and colleagues from Montreal Rocks. Once I describe Her Voice Over Boys as an early Chemical Brothers mixed in with very early Depeche Mode with a generous helping of the XX, I get them curious. Then once I play the album, they soon ask: What was the name of that band again? They take notes, and further explore them as I did.
Paul Wallner & Anna Müller along with their live drummer took to the dark stage and quickly reached out to each and every one of us with an auditory nudge to our nervous system to start moving to the rhythmic beat. Song after song, this trio from Vienna delivered dance tracks with that soft shy voice from Anna. While Anna was simply adorable as she said this was their first time in Montreal (Opera House in Toronto the night before), that shyness made her comments that much more touching. Judging from the tour schedule that includes the Dominican Republic in less than a week, then Mexico to New York to Johannesburg to Melbourne…wow…this band will be spending much of their time at airports with a very demanding touring schedule. But the love they received tonight showed that this was a night many fans were waiting for. My dancing neighbor had been waiting for 4 years to see them, and she soaked in every beat, her smile telling me she has had a relationship with the music as I had on that beach.
As if the room was in unison, we all witnesses the genius of Paul & Anna for ourselves. While EDM in not my music of choice for concerts, I would have regretting missing this experience. The reason I can listen to them while deep in creative thought is that the music flows, like creativity, without being distracted by a random extra drum beat in the wrong place, or a pause that lasts just a millisecond too long.
When Azrael started, the energy of the crowd exploded. I realized that I wasn’t the only one for whom this song resonated with. They played their hits, and even a song or two I haven’t discovered yet, homework. We felt elated by the experience and loved every minute of it, including the band that got us in the right frame of mind UNDERHER.
Absent from this show was a merchandise booth. I was really looking forward to getting some vinyl tonight, but all I left with was a granola bar handed out at the door. After all that dancing, it was much appreciated.
I exited through the back of the venue, like all other guests, and walked for a block or two to let the experience sink in like the snow falling on my coat. If there is a next time, I will be there again to sync my body to 120 beats per minute of great music.
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