Hop Along - live in Allston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Hop Along

live in Allston (2015)

live show

A sold-out, late-night triple bill of female-fronted indie rock in Allston, Mass. Locals Palehound opened up. I checked out some stuff on their Bandcamp just before the show to see if it would be worth showing up "early" for (doors were at 10, but overtime playoff hockey was on), and it definitely seemed promising. Live, they were a lot more low-key, with slow, slightly dark songs that reminded me of Speedy Ortiz's more restrained side (maybe a lazy comparison). A little more variety in the moods or tempos probably would have gone a long way to make it more interesting, but they definitely weren't bad. Thin Lips, while sharper, very lively and more crisp-sounding than their predecessors, left a similar impression on me. The crowd did seem into it more, and it was apparent that it warmed them up well for Hop Along.

Hop Along came on stage just about at midnight and strummed right into "Waitress", a nimble standout from their newly released album, Painted Shut, before saying hello and introducing themselves to a very adoring audience. From the first vocal note, frontwoman Frances Quinlan had that impressively effortless ability, barely moving a muscle in her face while unleashing that wild, powerful rasp of hers. It was on point all night.

They then played a few more from the very good Painted Shut, which is chock full of memorable songs to put in a set like this one, before throwing it back to 2012's Get Disowned; when the fan favorite chorus of "Tibetan Pop Stars" was belted out, it involved the loudest singing-along of the whole show, naturally, but there was definitely a distinct murmur of excitement in the crowd anytime they played something older than Painted Shut. Not to say they hated the newer stuff; there were plenty of smiles and shimmying and soft sing-alongs for much of the new fare, all of which translated really well live, including Quinlan playing "Happy to See Me" solo late in the set.

The band were charismatic as well, grinning politely and always seeming happy to be there and engaging the crowd well between songs, whether it was thanking them for their politeness, cracking a corny joke, or even giving the ultra-dark background to a song like "Well-Dressed" (which was about "father of jazz" Buddy Bolden, who had no recordings and suffered from dementia praecox relatively early in life; her explanation left the audience dead silent). It was just a little bit of moody dynamic to an otherwise pretty upbeat affair, with a packed floor clearly feeling the band's folky, melodic indie rock all the late night.

Set list (11:59-1:10):

Buddy in the Parade
The Knock
Texas Funeral
Tibetan Pop Stars
Powerful Man
I Saw My Twin
Horseshoe Crabs
Happy to See Me [solo]
Kids on the Boardwalk
Sister Cities