Sunday, March 6, 2016

New Music Discovery: Untamed by Hooka Hey

We all have concert stories that we love to share. My favorite is being the only person to show up for a show. Sure, nationally the band isn't known. Not yet at least.

There is a back story to this. An internet friend, who I've never met, is in a band in Austin, TX. Jesse and I go back to the days for music streaming. I caught him pranking a co-worker's profile page that had been left open at work and we've been friends ever since. His band is Hooka Hey. Hooka Hey is the legendary war cry of Crazy Horse and their music carries the same intensity. It's dirty desert rock that grooves deep inside of you. The blend of blues and riffs rival Queen of the Stone Age. They have a following in their hometown of Austin but they were hitting the road and this was new territory. I noticed they were coming to Philly in support of a local favorite and I thought what better way to surprise a friend than to support what he does and go to his gig.

When we arrived we could hear music reverberating from upstairs and we gravitated towards it. Knowing that we've never met in person I wasn't sure that Jesse would recognize me.  Especially in a concert environment. I was just hoping I could get close enough to say hello. When we walked in to our surprise the opening band was there but no one else. It was empty. Jesse immediately recognized me and gave me a hug.

 After catching up he explained that the headliner, who were a Philly favorite, had cancelled and they were now headlining but without the draw of the other band they were not sure what the night would hold.  As the opening band finished the set we went upstairs and met the rest of the band.  They were running high from their shows in NYC and NJ that were well attended.  Now in Philly they had hoped to keep the fire burning.  The band took the stage and we walked back out to the bar. We were about to get a private concert.

We were the only ones that showed up. How would a band handle playing to an audience of two in Philly after playing to a packed house in NYC?  They tore the place up!

Lead singer Hugo de Saint Quentin's deep Parisian voice is haunting. It dances over the his mesmerizing guitar play with Jesse Houghton. The groove was dirty and hypnotizing. I felt as if I had been drugged and I was along for the trip. Song after song the music dripped on our tongues and their dirty blues riffing carried us across the plains to a destination unknown. It was muscular and sexual. Everything you want your music to be.

I don't think it mattered to the band if there were two of us or two thousand. They played with the same urgent intensity. Along with some new tunes they played some favorites from their back catalog.

I think the only thing that could have made this show better would have been a larger audience to feed into the collective energy. Even without it they filled the room. You can see why their following is strong in Austin.  They could have a strong following everywhere. People just need to learn about them. That is our job.

Between songs the band joked. The stellar rhythm section played jazzy interludes while guitars were tuned.  They joked and asked for requests.  For the record, they will not play "Freebird" no longer how loud you yell it. They filled the time by playing just about everything they could play and then they were done.

Jesse came and had a couple beers with us. Despite nothing from the door he still wouldn't let us pay. I bought a shirt and a CD and we said our goodbyes.  It was surely a night a will always remembered.

I once saw Nine Inch Nails open for the Jesus & Mary Chain before Pretty Hate Machine came out.  It was at the Trocadero in Philly where they have a high stage. The J&MC had such a large stage set up that they made Trent and his band set up on the floor. There were maybe only 20 of us that saw them open. Trent doused us with beer, destroyed their instruments, and dragged their keyboardist across the floor by his hair. It was so incredible that we didn't even stay for the J&MC. When I tell people this story they are in awe and jealous.  That is exactly how they will react one day when I tell them about Hooka Hey.

Support new music and help a friend.  Make sure you check the band out!

See you when the needle drops!


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