Giving an objective account of a live performance by a band that you have long held in high regard can be a challenging task. All too many fans watch a band they love put on a mediocre-at-best show and then stay up all night staring their friends in the face and emphatically explaining how seeing Cat Power was a pivotal musical experience for them. To be brutally honest, a lot of bands’ live performances leave fans feeling like they just got a bad hand-job from a best friend’s younger sister: a little bit let down and a little bit embarrassed. But before talking about the slightly disappointing performance that Hood put on for the slightly disappointing number of people that came out on March 23, I have to make some room for the opening act, Windows 78.They were bad washed in digital delay and reverb. The lead singer started crying, I think I was crying too.
Okay, glad that’s done with.
As I hinted at before, Hood has long been a favorite band of mine. Having heard that the members of Hood don’t identify themselves as a “live band,” I should have checked my anticipation a little bit during the week preceding the show, but all bets were off after entertaining the idea that Dose One, another long time favorite of mine who now resides in Vancouver, just might lay down some live vocals for the tracks he did on Hood’s “Cold House.” Even a B-grade performance will sour the most partial fan if their expectations haven’t been properly grounded.
To be fair, Hood’s performance wasn’t awful, they just weren’t that good. They were able to keep their set interesting and lively despite the fact that their music is regularly slow and often bleak, but their performance was irrevocably marred by some unfortunate slip-ups. This was topped off by grimace-worthy unraveling of the last song they played as guitarist/lead singer Chris Adams simply gave up and walked off stage. For a band that has been on tour for some time now, it was an inexcusably unprofessional finish. Dose proved to be a little rusty as well when he jumped in early for his verse on “Branches Bare.” So much for anticipation, I guess.
But there were moments of brilliance on stage, though, and by no means was the set a total loss. It was great to hear the drum machines and broken-up sampling done well live (see “The Lost You”), and the drummer, whom (though I hate to admit it) I had never paid much attention on Hood’s albums, was a real treat to watch. Yet overall, despite managing to recreate their sound and atmosphere quite well and despite frequent moments of greatness onstage, their set was marred by some unfortunate slips. My impossibly high expectations weren’t met and I left a little bit let down and a little bit embarrassed.