A far cry from the raucous youthful exuberance usually experienced during Thekla’s Thursday night sessions, The Hotelier’s introspective take on emo/indie rock provides a candidly sombre tone to an otherwise vibrant night. Following support from the ingenuous grunge-influenced Pushing Daisies, alongside the infectious emo/pop melodies of Crying, the provisional four-piece assume the stage confidently, yet with an air of humility. This demeanour mirrors the progress made by the band when comparing the yearning, melodramatic nature of 2014’s breakthrough record Home, Like NoPlace Is There to the reserved, sophisticated approach taken on last year’s Goodness.
‘An Introduction to the Album’ gets the ball rolling with its anthemic vocal hooks and gradual crescendo, and bassist-cum-singer Christian Holden’s croons sounds less worn than one might expect from a perpetually-touring musician. The Massachusetts outfit continue to reel off a healthy mix of Home’s most crushingly morose songs and the simple eloquence found on Goodness. ‘Two Deliverances’ is performed exquisitely, its subtly stirring chorus perfectly encapsulating the atmosphere of the night, whereas ‘Among the Wildflowers’ provides a mournful mid-point to the set, the lyrical refrain of “If you break when I break, will you carry me away?” powerfully resonating through Holden’s strained vocals. ‘Sun’, the band’s most intricate and ambitious song yet, morphs from a gentle frolic into an explosive instrumental and vocal crescendo, and ‘Your Deep Rest’ forms a morbid yet catchy high point of the night with every single audience member repeating “I called in sick from your funeral”.
Where The Hotelier falter is their lack of connection with their audience. For such sentimental music, and considering the passionate and often-outspoken nature of their fanbase, the band seem to make little effort in communicating with the audience besides the usual ‘thank you for coming’s and ‘we have a few songs left’s. In many ways it’s an appropriate statement of the sincere and straightforward approach the band take towards their live performance, but overall there is a feeling of slight underwhelm as the final meandering notes of ‘Dendron’ close what has been an otherwise great performance.
Words by Lewis Edwards