4/8/15 – Brighton Music Hall

The rain poured down in Allston two Wednesdays back, but poor weather didn’t stand a chance against the line of fans outside of Brighton Music Hall. Arriving 20 minutes early and getting wet seemed a reasonable sacrifice for the evening’s performance.

“I really hope they’ll let me in,” said a young girl behind me.

I told her the show was all ages, and she looked incredibly relieved. She proudly informed me that this would be her first-ever concert.

Fans of the show’s main act, From Indian Lakes, would later prove their expertise in memorizing the band’s lyrics. But what they didn’t know was what gems awaited in the opening act.

With dim lighting and a relaxed vibe in the room, the band members’ nonchalant entrances had everyone mistaking them for stagehands. They looked like they had just returned from taking a dip in the harbor and seemed unfazed by the lackluster welcome. We’re talking about four-piece local band Oh, Malô: a post-ambient indie rock group brewed straight out of the Bay.

With gel-soaked manes and impressive scruff, the band’s Jesus-like dress code only lacked Birkenstocks.

While Soil and The Sun’s and From Indian Lakes’ sets proved that the audience came for the headlining acts, the pulsing nature of Oh, Malô’s first song, “Out On My Own,” lured everyone a few steps closer to the stage. Spacey was certainly the band’s vibe for the evening—both in sound and spirit. The smooth and eerie vocals matched the wild expressions on all four band members’ faces. Bassist Jordan Lagana rocked the song’s beginning with a great lick and enhanced the bridge with a creamy bass line, later also controlling the synth.

After the sound of the synths faded, lead singer and songwriter Brandon Hafetz seemed to remember that his band needed an introduction. “We’re… uh… Oh, Malô… Oh, yeah,” he said, grinning.

For the next song, “Feed,” the band seemed a bit far-gone, but pulled the crowd along with them as they built a truly addicting sound. With eyes closed, Hafetz and lead guitarist Jack McLaughlin moved and played as one unit. Their eyebrows communicated the song’s meaning in tandem with their lyrics. The pair ushered the music through their bodies, contorting themselves and shredding with every muscle tensing, then becoming loose and free. Together, the band produced an effect that mimicked the very relationships their songs center on: Ones so intimately calm that also have moments of sheer intensity and angst.

A giant, thrashing drum solo near the end of the song led the other members into crouching positions. Drummer James Knoerl filled the hall with percussion while the rest of the band knelt kindly to make more room for the space Knoerl’s growing sound required.

They’re like “Brian Eno meets metal!” a friend shouted over the beats.

The band hushed the audience with their last song, the new “As We Were,” a lullabye-like piece. Despite the slurred and incoherent lyrics, the blurred lines between sounds and words enveloped the audience in nothing but beautiful cacophony. The timbre of Hafetz’s voice blended gorgeously with the synth and instruments behind it, creating an eerie, Daughter-reminiscent blend. The bass and guitar played rainy melodies and Knoerl matched with some drum thunder. The chimey music evoked images of planets and swirling skyscapes

Sadly, the set’s space-like vibe became a little too “spacey” during the last song. The band, while producing engaging music, looked disconnected, distant, and a bit fried.

Hafetz had to shake out the last words of “As We Were.” While “Feed” would have made for a more powerful finale, Hafetz’s last whisper sent chills through the audience. He departed quietly in his flowing robe of a shirt, followed by his band, all seeming a bit dazed, but entirely content.

 

I talked with Brandon after the set, who said he didn’t “have anything crazy to say,” but seemed especially grateful for the opportunity to perform. “These bands are like next-level bands, and this venue is one of my favorite venues,” he said.

When asked if there was anything unique about their short set that evening, Hafetz took a lengthy moment before replying: “What’s cool is that no one knew who we were. It was a clean slate… Even with three songs.”

He was right. Oh, Malô blended complex instrumentation with simple lyrics, and provided the audience with a constant, building sound to get lost in and enjoy.

Hoping to check out these fellas’ tunes? Listen here on Bandcamp.

A Trip Through Space: Oh, Malô
Pros
  • Vocals on point
  • Captivating set despite short time frame
Cons
  • Words often slurred, hard to understand
  • Not totally present
7.2Overall Score

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.