I call them a duo because that's how they started out, and essentially what they still are with Grant Burton and Stephanie Parrish writing all the songs and music for the band. They're the nucleus of the group, and lovers, which was very obvious based on their synergy and songwriting -- but ironically, that duo sounds best as a five piece when they add drums, bass, and banjo/saxphone/lap steel guitar like they did last night. Their set started out sort of tepid at first as they began with a few slower, alt country-esque love songs to one another. The bulk of their material is mostly about the emotions of initially falling in love and was written before other members were added to the group to help record an album and play live shows. I'm not sure the crowd was feeling those first few tunes, or maybe folks were just single and bitter and didn't want to hear that shit. Either way, if people were into it, they didn't immediately show it.
The first half hour had that Neumos "let's all stand here with our hands in our pockets" feeling that Seattle audiences can be known for. But at the same time, bands on stage have to earn the respect of the crowd so it's partly admiral. Anyway, some of their first songs, especially those with a slight country twang, felt more suited for a crowd in Nashville or North Carolina. And they struck me as the type of band that had a better chance of making it out of Seattle, rather than in Seattle, if that makes sense.
To be fair, last night was only the band's fourth time playing out and they're already opening up for the Vaselines, which naturally is going to add a good amount of pressure. Although they later denied it, there was definitely some nervous energy on stage throughout their set, but they eventually smoothed all of that out.
As the songs picked up in pace and the more energy Hallways was able to give the audience, the crowd didn't hesitate to give it right back. At some point, Hawai'ian transplant Kimo Muraki, who was playing banjo in the beginning switched to saxophone and it added a whole new dynamic. I think my favorite original songs of theirs from last night were "Roses" and "All You Have To Do." Even though the latter is full of that pillow-talk Southern romance appeal, it's a gorgeous ballad nonetheless.
The crowd reacted best when they jumped into "Comfortably Numb." It's sort of ballsy to cover Pink Floyd like that, especially at the end of their set when the room was packed with people. What stood out most was that they had a fuller sound during that song than they did on any other -- Grant flailed about in full rock star mode, Stephanie with her short dress, cute looks, and endless gams, crooned with the more energy than she did all night, and Kimo even switched to lap steel guitar. They played the moment up and closed out strong, which the audience seemed to appreciate. Even though they've got some kinks to work out (it being their fourth show and all) it wasn't a bad set at all.
On a random note: Why the hell did people keep shooting streamers and blowing bubbles into the crowd? I felt like I was in Fear and Loathing at one point with all types of ribbons and bubbles and party favors (not those kind of party favors) touching my face! I'm not sure if that was a part of the act, but it sure seemed weird.