Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hum at the Old Rock House

It is no secret that Hum is one of my favorite bands of all time. In case you haven't been following along, Hum occasionally reunites for one or two shows in the Midwest. I was elated when I caught their New Years Eve and New Years Day show in Chicago back in late 2008 and early 2009.

After the announcement of their show on Memorial Day in Chicago, I suspected Hum might do a warm up show. It turns out the Old Rock House in St. Louis were the lucky benefactors of a Hum Reunion show. After weighing the options, I booked my flight and was ready to see Hum in action once more.


From the opening psychedelic swirl of "The Pod", I knew I made the right decision to fly to St. Louis. I was perfectly positioned in the center of the stage with Matt Talbott's Orange Amplifier stack to my left and Tim Lash's Hiwatt stack to my right. Hum live in stereo. It was pure sonic heaven.

Immediately, I noticed Hum sounded extremely well rehearsed compared to their prior shows at the Double Door. This is understandable given that they will play to a potentially large crowd next week at Millennium park on Memorial Day. Matt's vocals were stronger as he roared through "The Pod".

The deceiving quiet intro of "Iron Clad Lou" shifted into overdrive with its locomotive riff propelled by Talbott's Les Paul Studio and Lash's Jackson guitar. It seems that Lash finally retired his battered Fender Stratocaster that appeared to be falling apart when I saw them at the Double Door.

Hum have always gone against the grain and I wasn't surprised when Talbott started the hypnotic glossy chords of "Stars" as the third song of the evening. If you only came to hear "Stars", then you got a chance to go home early. The combined power riffing of Lash and Talbott was outstanding as they played screaming octaves. As much as I gush over the combined talents of Talbott and Lash, Jeff Dimpsey's rock solid anchoring of the bass and Bryan St. Pere's cymbal smashing are vital keys to Hum's trademark sound.

The guitar phaser squalls of "The Inuit Promise" from the highly overlooked Downward is Heaven kept the energy level soaring. It was beautiful to hear the nuances and dynamics of the song live. To hear Lash rake his guitar strings on his headstock at the end of the song adds extra spice that isn't in the recorded version. I had flashbacks to when I stayed up late on Sundays to watch 120mins on MTV when they started playing "Comin' Home".

Hum ascended into a hurricane of synchronized distorted harmonics before landing softly into the dusky daydream of "Afternoon with the Axoltols". The song oscillates between loud and quiet to pull the listener in closer in a way that only Hum can accomplish. The lighting technician got extra points for switching the lights to green during the explosive "Green To Me". Even though I have never heard the studio version of "Inklings", I can say that live version is astounding with its heavy palm muted riffing.

Dipping back into You'd Prefer An Astronaut, "Suicide Machine" made me think I was dreaming cause I still couldn't believe what I was witnessing. St. Pere looked at Talbott and asked him if he was ready prior to an ultra rare live rendition of "Scraper" from the more metallic leaning Electra 2000. Talbott adjusted the dial on his MXR Phaser 90 pedal for the intoxicating opening of "The Little Dipper". Even though it was denoted on the setlist as "G&D", the astral stomp of "I Like Your Hair Long" was stunning with Talbott stomping on his MXR Phaser again. The world needs more bands that can tastefully use a guitar phaser like Hum.

The whole setlist was amazing. I was secretly hoping for "Dreamboat" but was shocked when Lash and Talbott switched guitars for the one and a half step detuned gem "The Scientists". Easily one of my top 5 Hum songs which I don't remember hearing them play live back in the day. "I Hate it Too" was the finishing salvo to the evening that was punctuated by the entire crowd singing the opening lines of the song along with Talbott. The look of shock on Talbott's face was priceless. Needless to say, I can't wait for Chicago.

Hum setlist at the Old Rock House in St. Louis (05/22/10)
"The Pod"
"Iron Clad Lou"
"The Inuit Promise"
"Comin' Home"
"Afternoon With The Axoltols"
"Green To Me"
"Suicide Machine"
"Little Dipper"
"I'd Like Your Hair Long"
"The Scientists"
"I Hate It Too"


Carl said...

Nice review and great show! I thought it was nice that the band hung out afterwards to talk to fans. Can't wait to see them in Chicago as well.

I keep dreaming that at one of these shows, they'll play a new song...

Annie said...

nice review and photos! the band did seem shocked that people knew the material still. so cool. :) sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up...i linked your review from my review:

btw: they're playing in champaign on July 10 as well. get those frequent flyer miles going!

Anonymous said...

If anyone taped this show, I would love to get a copy. (I.E. Post link here?) I was there, but my recorder has finally crapped out. I think it is as old as "you'd prefer an astronaut".. Great show..

Anonymous said...

I drove in from Kansas City and this was totally worth it. It was everything that I had hoped it would be, great setlist, sound was great, band was exceptionally nice.

CHEESUS said...

Nice Review... I too can not wait for Chicago. I am flying in from L.A. to see the show. Wish I could do both but just couldn't afford the time off.

If some one taped the St. Louis I would really, REALLY love to hear it and urge SOMEONE to tape Chicago please!!!

I am praying for Why I Like Robins, Pinch and Roll and Double Dip to be added to the setlist.....

I am so F'n excited I can hardly contain myself. I Love LOve LOVE this band!!!!!

Lukas said...

Little dipper has always been called Girls and Drugs to the band.

Great review!

Anonymous said...

Girls and Drugs is actually I'd like your hair long.