Monday, December 18, 2023

Live Shows: Hallelujah the Hills, Eldridge Rodriguez, and Aaron and the Lord, The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA 12/15/23

Mid December starts to become a bit of a nightmare. The pressures of Christmas are fully on, family and friends start having near constant Christmas parties, and there are dozens of holiday activities you simply must do or you're not celebrating right. But sometimes there's a night of music you have to go to, and that was the case with the amazing triple bill of Hallelujah the Hills, Eldridge Rodriguez, and Aaron and the Lord.

Aaron and the Lord is the collaboration of Aaron Perrino of The Sheila Divine and Steve Lord of Dirty Bangs. Their music tends to be dark and moody, leaning a little more into the world of New Wave or pop than their previous bands have. They've gotten even darker recently with singles like "The Darkness" and "Lilydale," which have reached into epic territory. Even though this was my fourth time seeing Aaron and the Lord, I'm always surprised at how much of a rock band they are live. Sure, it's still dark and moody, but live they just flat out rock. The brooding songs turn into full on rock songs without losing anything we've liked about the band previously. 

Eldridge Rodriguez played second, and was the only band I had not seen live at this point. Another band specializing in dark and moody music (At one point singer Cameron Kieber asked the crowd "Who wants to hear an upbeat one?" and when the crowd cheered, he responded with "Well you're fucked") that rocks harder than expected. Songs like "A Feeling that Won't Go Away" and "Without All Your Teeth You Can't Get Into Heaven" from this year's great Atrophy translated great to a live performance. Despite all the doom and gloom from the songs, Kieber was a captivating and chatty frontman. Patter with the audience was some of the best I've heard in years, and kept the show a bit more upbeat instead of derailing a show, which is what usually happens. They closed with "Baby I'm Alone Tonight from their 2011 EP Christmas on the Allston-Brighton Line (which I didn't even know existed!) and had Santa come out with a sack of t-shirts and candy to toss into the crowd. Moody indie rock can be a great time.

Hallelujah the Hills took the stage and started off with a cover of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" that seemed like it would just be a quick one verse shot from singer Ryan H. Walsh until the rest of the band joined in for the full song. Over the years, one of my favorite things about seeing Hallelujah the Hills live is when they play a new single you haven't seen performed live before, and it just unfolds into this mind-blowing epic. That was the case with brand new single "Alone, In Love." The seven and a half minute single was just begging to be played live, and it blossomed into a rambling and loose song that felt like a rootsy version of Sonic Youth. Somehow most of the noise and chaos for the band is created by viola player David Michael Curry, which you need to see to believe. From there the band traded off playing songs from their upcoming four album DECK project with known favorites. "People Keep Dying (And No One Can Stop It)" will always be a live favorite, with one of the most unlikely shout along choruses out there. Hallelujah the Hills are just one of those bands that should be internationally known megastars, but are somehow one of Boston's many bands that deserve far more attention.

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