|Hemmingbirds perform at a past show (facebook.com/hemmingbirds)|
A host of local acts played Lincoln Hall last Wednesday in a show presented by Betta Promotions, including local indie rock band Hemmingbirds.
Hemmingbirds began as a side project for writer-guitarist-singer Yoo Soo Kim, but led to the release of their debut and self-produced album, Death Wave, last May. The album was described here on WCR recently as “sometimes uplifting, sometimes darkly desperate and most often a powerful mixture of both.”
The show began as a solid indie rock set with surprisingly strong vocals, which impressed on me the extent of Kim’s ability as a songwriter and performer. Supported by a host of talented characters, the songs transitioned from well-rounded originals to a cover of The Beach Boys’ "Wouldn’t It Be Nice," with four-part harmonies to boot.
This quieter folk influence became apparent soon after with a number of acoustic-led songs. Surely the influence of Irish Dylan-enthusiast Fionn Regan isn’t a factor, but the lilting of Kim’s voice and vocal choices displayed definite similarities. Kim’s natural banter included a shout-out to his parents and fake-removing his shirt for the hecklers in the audience, and the notion of him as the genial artist was secured with their best song, "Treetops," with lyrics such as “I dreamt we’re under covers, we played it like a game. The sea she was a fighter.”
Later, songs switched up even more, from some more radio-friendly rock to some dirty-groove grunge to some pleasant Shins-esque ooh-ing in "Mellow Gold Haze," and then back again. At times the various stylish tempo-changes added to the songs, at times they seemed to have been a consequence of over-thinking -- particularly at song conclusions. The set ended with a raw, angry, old-school blues track, suggesting an attempt at all-encompassing, "jack of all trades" writing.
Perhaps if it were more focused on a single sound there would be comparisons with Ryan Adams or Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper, but for now Hemmingbirds should be happy with the progress of a solo project blossoming into a collection of well-crafted songs, and an enjoyable performance.
Also playing were Mendelssohn and Shy Technology, and the night closed with a solid set from classy, turn-of-the-century roots-rockers The Ragtones.
Check out more show reviews:
Maps & Atlases at Lincoln Hall
Flogging Molly at Congress Theater
Louis and the Hunt at Schubas
The Pogues, Titus Andronicus at Congress Theater
The Island of Misfit Toys at Schubas