Photos l Review: Hands Like Houses, Emarosa, and More at Brighton Music Hall

Hands Like Houses

Who: Hands Like Houses, Emarosa, Devour the Day, The Faim, and Arlington

Where: Brighton Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts

When: November 23, 2018

I have a love/hate relationship with Brighton Music Hall. It is one of the easiest venues in the Boston area for me to drive to and hosts some of the most amazing lineups, but the parking situation is awful. It takes a special lineup to get me to brave the parking headache, but Hands Like Houses with Emarosa, Devour the Day, The Faim, and Arlington was certainly a good enough reason.

Arlington is a rock band based out of Southern California who brought the soul to the stage. Their style of music was bluesy rock ‘n roll mixed with a little bit of folk. A quick YouTube search before the show meant that I recognized when they performed “Mud,” which sounded extraordinarily better live. There was also a cover of “House of the Rising Sun” that, while not the most ambitious cover, was simple, stayed true to The Animals’ version, and fit the vibe of their set. I am usually a person who prefers two guitars on stage and a singer who is unencumbered by an instrument, but the trio was charismatic enough that I did not really mind. Arlington started the night off on the right foot and is a very highly recommended band to see live.

The Faim is a band that I have been aware of for a little while, thanks to a few friends who recommended I listen to “Saints of the Sinners” and “Summer is a Curse.” The Australian band is on their first US tour. Their music was harder to put into a box, but they lean toward the alternative; their music is full of anthemic choruses and big beats. What became evident very quickly, however, was that the venue was the wrong fit for this band. This was an audience that seemed to be bursting with energy to move and crowd surf, but this venue does not allow moshing or crowd surfing; security could be seen walking around trying to calm down some members of the audience who were getting a bit too rowdy for their taste. Despite the challenge, The Faim were fun and I would love to see them again in a different venue to compare experiences.

I usually make it a habit to YouTube bands that I am unfamiliar with on a tour before I see them perform live. I forgot to do so for Devour the Day and regretted it quickly. More hard rock than both bands that had performed before them, Devour the Day had great riffs, vocals that moved expertly from singing to screaming, and the best audience connection of all the bands so far. This band felt effortless on stage and knew exactly how to make the audience care about them. Like with Arlington, I did not feel like I needed another guitar or singer unencumbered by an instrument; the charisma coming from all three band members filled the room. Devour the Day’s set showed again how much of a wrong fit the venue was; their music demanded to be met with the same energy that was exuding from the stage. Overall, Devour the Day were memorable and had me running to YouTube to check out more of their music.

Emarosa was the only band on this lineup that I had seen before, twice in fact, so I knew that I was in for fun. Right off the bat, I noticed bassist Robert Joffred had a bigger role than he had the previous times I had seen them, which elevated the set. Joffred is an excellent musician with big stage presence on his own. When vocalist Bradley Walden steps into the picture, the two energies mesh well and take over the entire room. Walden used to be much more frenetic on stage, but his stage presence has evolved in a way that I like; he still flips bassist Joffred and gets into the audience with guitarist Matthew Marcellus on his shoulders as he sings. Emarosa has also evolved a lot sound-wise from the first time I saw them a few years ago. Their music is taking on much more of a pop sound influenced by Michael Jackson and I cannot say that I am a fan of this new direction. I feel that their music has kind of gotten lost in the big world of pop music and there is nothing that I can point to and say with certainty that it belongs to Emarosa. Their setlist had a mix of old favorites, like “Young Lonely,” “Helpless,” “Miracle,” “People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play,” “Cloud 9,” “Hurt,” and “Sure,” which finished off the set. Sandwiched in between the classics were new tracks “Givin’ Up” and “Don’t Cry.” Overall, their set was fun, but their music is not at the top of my priority list.

Hands Like Houses is a band that I have been wanting to see for a while, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to make it to their show. Their new album, Anon, released on October 12 and the setlist was made up of a lot of new songs but was also balanced well with old favorites. “New Romantics” started the set-off, followed by “Colourblind” and new song “Monster.” “Division Symbols,” “Tilt,” “Introduced Species,” “Perspectives,” “Overthinking,” “A Tale of Outer Suburbia,” “No Parallels,” “Bad Dream,” and “Sick” continued the excellent mix of songs off Anon, 2016’s Dissonants and 2013’s Unimagine. Audience favorites “Drift” and “I Am” finished the night off. Hands Like Houses took over the stage to an audience who was more than ready for them after waiting through four bands. Their set was full of life and just a purely good time. The audience was moving, jumping up and down with the band, and thoroughly entranced. Hands Like Houses were just crazy fun and I am already looking forward to their return to New England.

This was one of the best show line-ups I have seen this year. Thanks to the variety in sound from each band, it kept the night from getting boring and every single band really did put on a great show. I hope to see these bands again in venues that allow for moshing and crowd surfing and have more accessible parking.

Post and photos by Karen Shalev

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