The Helio Sequence / Ramona Falls - Live in Allston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Helio Sequence / Ramona Falls

Live in Allston (2012)

live show

Ramona Falls had just kicked off this show at Brighton Music Hall when I arrived. It was my second night in a row at the Allston, Mass. venue, having witnessed the David Bazan Band play Pedro the Lion's Control the evening prior. It was cool to get to see another band for the first time, especially given that I got into the Helio Sequence back in 2008 with the release of their super solid Keep Your Eyes Ahead record. Ramona Falls were pretty all right as an opener–they had easygoing vibes, but at the same time, seemed to span a wide spectrum of emotional fare in their songs. They were hard to describe; somewhat playful and otherwise pensive indie rock/pop maybe, with modestly lush instrumentation (there were keys on most everything, and their newest member, an electronic violinist, could be seen drumming on the monitor for extra percussion on one song). Their Pittsburgh Pirates jersey-clad drummer was constantly standing up and handled a fair bit of the banter as well. They all seemed like genuinely pleasant people and it made for a cordial start to the night.

After setting up and then disappearing momentarily, the duo known as the Helio Sequence returned to warm applause and a very modest entrance and start. I can't really convey how stripped down their presentation was in a strange sense–just a well-done atmosphere overall. It sounded like a lot of the keys and all basslines were pre-recorded, but it didn't hinder the set at all: The pair sounded crisp and calculated but with plenty of subtle moments of improvisation (plus guitarist/vocalist Brandon Summers adding harmonica to a few songs, like the older "So Stop"). The new tracks from their recent, excellent effort Negotiations, sounded outright great (not to say the older jams from Eyes weren't affecting, because they damn sure were).

Summers sounded just like he does on record, with his inviting, lightly Dylan-esque voice divulging innately catchy and swaying, occasionally danceable melodies. Drummer Benjamin Weikel was the most frantic dude on a kit I've seen playing merely tasteful backing percussion. He made the best faces: It was the sort of expression a dog makes when you gently blow air in its face.

This crowd was also way more into it than most "indie" bands I've seen at this venue too, which was nice to see. Summers seemed especially appreciative of some hairy fans right up front who were actively singing along and dancing enthusiastically the entire set. Quite a good time all around.

Set list (10:21-11:23):

  1. One More Time
  2. Can't Say No
  3. The Captive Mind
  4. October
  5. Downward Spiral
  6. Hall of Mirrors
  7. Keep Your Eyes Ahead
  8. The Measure
  9. Let It Fall Apart
  10. So Stop
  11. You Can Come to Me
  12. Lately
  13. Negotiations
  14. Hallelujah
    Encore (11:24-11:32):
  15. Broken Afternoon
  16. No Regrets