On Nov. 15, Worcester, Massachusetts alt-punk band The Hotelier performed at Madison’s High Noon Saloon in, what they penned, their “first officially official performance” in Madison. On the heels of their well-received 2016 album Goodness, The Hotelier was primed to create quite a memorable atmosphere, in which they semi-succeeded at accomplishing.
The night began with Austin, Texas’ Alex Napping. The indie quartet was reminiscent of Michelle Zauner’s Japanese Breakfast persona, except the musicality was slightly uncontrollable. An overplayed set of juxtapositions between soft vocals and neck-breaking rhythms was slightly subdued at the end with a refreshing unreleased song, ending the set on a good note.
Next, Oso Oso of Long Beach, New York came to the stage. The all-boy band brought a solid, but cookie-cutter performance with top hit “Reindeer Games,” as they sounded like 99 percent of all punk-pop fusion groups. The band lacked a consistent energy throughout their 45 minutes, with drummer Aaron Wims going H.A.M. and lead singer Jade Dimitri appearing to be overtly inebriated and telling atrocious riddles about deer (one can only wish to have made that up).
Both bands, although talented, failed to fully enrapture the audiences. The lackluster opening set created a bit of an anxious atmosphere before the Hotelier’s performance, praying that the main act wouldn’t flop like the first two did.
However, this wasn’t the case. The Hotelier took the stage to whoops and hollers at 9:22 p.m. With no introduction necessary, the band dove into their first track, the soft and hypnotic “An Introduction to the Album” off their 2014 album Home, Like Noplace Is There. Wavering guitars and soft singing transitioned into a powerful breakdown worthy of irrepressible head-banging; flaring guitars, thudding drums and lead singer Christian Holden’s impeccable voice reached what seemed like unattainable heights. The darkness of their lyricism was also on display, as the band later followed up with “Sun” off of their 2016 project Goodness. The near seven-minute track was close to perfect, and this is coming from a non-rock-oriented fan. Other top tracks like “Two Deliverances,” “Soft Animal” and “Among the Wildflowers” were also showcased.
The Hotelier, although exhausted from their jamming, tried to maintain a welcoming and intimate atmosphere. Amid and in between depressing and demonstrative songs, the band seemed pleasant and offered good-hearted and fuzzy anecdotes of their tour to date, past shows and their songs. Holden even offered insight on rock concert pragmatism, such as the genuineness of bands and how to (comically) combat calls for encores.
The night ended with “Dendron,” a sweltering tune of connecting depression to relationships through metaphors of trees. The semi-somber, semi-angry song left fans with an emotional roller-coaster of sorts. Holden sang “Wish I was there to say goodbye when you went away/ Wish I was home, but no place was there/ I cut off my arm at the bone in solidarity/ Capital teaches that there’s less when you share.”