by Jane Van Arsdale
The West Village’s Sullivan Hall has long been a stomping ground for introducing relative unknowns and local indie bands to open-minded, youthful audiences. Wednesday night’s bill was no different, almost like a throwback to a musical revue- packed with a slew of acts one after the other for five plus hours, meshing a multitude of musical genres with a small, but raucous crowd reveling in dancing and boozing all at once. LocalBozo.com stopped into the venue just in time for a glimpse at the inspired folk-band, The Hollows- a six pieced outfit with so many different sounds emanating from their stage show, that they defy any musical label.
On this night, the band’s 45 minute set began with a vigorous bluegrass number- “August”- and ended with an entire crowd, hand-clapping and foot-stomping to a familiar cover of The Band. What’s most interesting about watching The Hollows perform is their versatility. With no ‘frontman’ in the traditional sense, each of the four main instrumentalists all seem to share vocal duties, harmonizing as well as soloing. Moreover, the members seamlessly transition from keyboard to guitar, mandolin to banjo, and even from an accordion to a trumpet, while a harmonica is passed between them freely. No conceivable instrument onstage goes unused amongst the talented musicians.
At first glance, The Hollows seem an unlikely bunch; their look alone suggests more of a hipster jam band. Instead, their unlikely harmonizing lends itself to mesh an avant-garde style of indy rock, with a dash of blues and bluegrass sprinkled in for good measure. But somehow even while switching instruments amongst each other between songs, The Hollows manage to make it work and watching their passion on stage bring each song together cohesively is supremely entertaining.
With just 8 songs in their set, The Hollows made each one stand out. The blues were on display during “Youngblood,” with guitarist Rob Morrison’s vocals reaching the pinnacle of high pitch, while “Old Brown Dog” let the band cut their country chops. The highlight was certainly “3 Months/3 Years,” which began with an a-capella harmony before emerging into a jazzy 80′s Billy Joel Motown style tune. The crowd out in front danced along in unison like it was an oldies concert. The band settled into a cover of The Band’s “The Weight” as an appropriate choice, with the audience singing the words right back to the melody driven chorus.
Seeing this rising band live is in a word: fun. They are an energetic bunch, passionate about performing the music that they so clearly care about and it resonates with their audience. The atmosphere inside Sullivan Hall on this night was infectious and if you don’t want to move around at least a little bit when watching The Hollows perform live, you might want to check yourself for a pulse.