by Anna Newton
The iconic Paradise Rock Club held a truly memorable show featuring three bands, Alex G, Hop Along, and Built to Spill on Monday, October 3. Each band differed somewhat from the others in style and sound, but all embraced their indie rock roots allowing for a unique melding of composition.
The first act, Alex G, the Bandcamp success story from Philadelphia, kicked off the show, bringing his entrancing yet frenzied lo-fi sound to the stage. Alex G transitioned from one song to the next without stopping, mesmerizing the audience with a wall of white noise and distortion, cutting in and out of songs to create a melodic chaos. His anguish and candor gushed messily onto the floor as his strained voice flowed imperfectly filling the room with discord. The band’s instrumental number “Walk” can only be explained as a hypnotic phenomenon as the lights dimmed and the captivating chords seemingly engulfed the space. Once Alex G crooned his final notes, one could not help but feel exhausted by this extraordinarily dissonant journey.
Indie-folk rock outfit Hop Along, also from Philadelphia, brought an energy that shook the entire venue and brilliantly inspired a fervor within each and every audience member. Frances Quinlan began the set alone with her guitar. If her short stature and bumble bee guitar strap were misleading, she quickly proved that she knows how to rock, as her hands strummed her guitar with such precision while she dynamically belted out songs in her signature raspy yet airy voice. The band then joined her onstage with such spirit, bouncing across the stage with hair flying all over, for the next song “Waitress.” Quinlan’s brutal honesty coupled with twangy riffs and ringing chords masterfully crafted a restless and brooding mood. This unrelenting emotional rollercoaster and amplified energy sparked listeners to let loose and belt and bounce alongside Quinlan during the set. Hop Along’s last songs, “Sister Citites” and “Tibetan Pop Stars,” truly electrified the entire venue, and many were sad to see the vibrant band leave the stage.
The last act was Built to Spill, an indie rock band from Boise, Idaho that has been around since the early 90’s. Doug Martsch, the lead singer and guitarist, enamored the crowd with his intricate guitar work and distinctively clarion Ben Gibbard-like voice. Each song played was a multifaceted wonder as the song’s complex nature was often blanketed by a mellow, laid-back disposition. These layers allowed for an incredibly unusual experience as these complex undertones seemed to seep through the cracks unknowingly to the crowd. Listeners merely experienced these nuances without understanding the cause leaving them vulnerable to the music. As the band closed the show with their hit “Liar,” the exposed crowd openly sang along to every word, bobbing along to the tune. All in all, each band brought something different to the stage creating a truly captivating and unpredicted show.