High school is a strange time in life. Caught between wanting the independence you can’t have and having the responsibilities you don’t want, it provides the emotional foundation on which many people build their sense of self and either seize on the opportunity to develop further or retreat towards the path of least resistance. And while high school is likely far in the rear view mirror of many people who attended Monday’s Hinds show at Teragram, for a multitude of reasons, every aspect of the show felt like a trip back into those comparatively halcyon days.
Kicking off this trend was LA based Jasper Bones. Although it would be easy to say he earns this distinction through his age alone (he’s 19 and I’m pretty sure his parents were the ones standing in front of me whooping for the better part of his set), the content and form of his music were the most telling signs of the high school vibe which came to dominate the night. Going for something of a Latin D’Angelo vibe, though eschewing the more pop aspects of similar acts such as Miguel, it was obvious that he was the kind of kid in high school who would learn the chords to “More Than Words” on his first acoustic and then consider his ensuing performance at the school talent show as his big break. As his performance went on, it became evident that while he still has a lot of growth to achieve in regards to his musicianship, his lyrical talent and the soul through which he delivers it are undeniable and presage a bright future for him and anyone involved in his musical pursuits.
After the show’s singer-songwriter beginnings though, things took a turn for another cornerstone of high school music clichés: the dirty punk band, embodied in this instance by the Toronto based Goodbye Honolulu. Composed of “the guy who picked up a guitar for the girls,” “the guy who picked up bass for the weed,” “the guy who picked up the first instrument he could find because his Mom told him he needed a hobby,” and “one of their brother’s friends who knew how to play drums and is always up for an opportunity that provides free beer,” I went into their set upon first looking at them thinking that it would be a high energy block that would prime everyone accordingly for the main event. While I wasn’t wrong, once they dove into actually performing, I found myself feeling something that I hadn’t felt since high school: anger for practically no reason at all.
While I’m sure they’re quality people, upon first listening to them, everything about them pissed me the fuck off on a gut level. Thinking that their lyrics were lazy, their vocals were abrasive, and their overall sound was something resembling a ska band fronted by Tom Delonge that didn’t even have the charm of a horn section, I began to write a seething a review in my head that almost immediately devolved into ad hominem attacks and a witty retort about how Trump chose the wrong border to build the wall across (I had to throw in a Canadian dig after all).
However, much in the same way that your high school self flips between emotional states like it’s trying to get you committed to an institution, the scales were tipped in my mind by one remark from the girl I was with. About halfway through their set, she leaned in and told me that they sounded exactly like Sum 41 and that she hadn’t felt as free to be herself at a concert in years. This is when it clicked with me that the sound she was talking about is now at the stage in its life cycle to be discussed and, in the same way, experienced as nostalgia. After this realization, I was immediately able to get into the vibe they were aiming to set, even if I had to take the long way there.
With the emotionally unstable part of the night behind us, the crowd went nuts when Hinds made their way onstage as the most revered of all high school archetypes in our culture: the girls you kick yourself over for never having asked out. Going beyond any discussion of looks in a breakdown of this, Hinds epitomize the almost unconditional coolness one would apply to a first love from afar, from the way they sprinted gleefully onto the stage to their indifference to ever being thought of as silly, pandering, or otherwise depthless in a high energy set that made me happy that I pushed through my hangover from the night before to be there. While I couldn’t name you a favorite song from memory, their music consistently galvanized the crowd in a way that I did not go into the show expecting and came out of it astounded by.
While I’ve seen a fair share of stage dives in my time, their set easily magnified those numbers to double or triple what they were before walking in that night, with the band members, fans, and even members of the opening acts swan diving into the crowd throughout their set, before almost always being returned to the stage with a devotion that’s rarely seen at shows of this nature. They were even able to convince the crowd to create a caravan to get beers, unopened at that, from the stage to the sound techs successfully in the same fashion that they plunged so willingly into the swarm of onlookers only minutes before. At almost any other show, those beers would’ve been gone; however, due the intense and unexpected devotion of all in attendance, the better angels of everyone’s nature were fully on display and made a successful argument, for one night at least, that people are inherently benevolent creatures.
In short, while the night’s music itself will never be held up by mainstream critics as being on Captain Beefheart or Leonard Cohen levels of musical acumen, much like the music you listen to in the years before college, Hinds and the acts that preceded them on Monday exist for a time and a place when you need the comfort of good memories, both which are fondly remembered and that are yet to be made. And while they may have played on Memorial Day, the whole night felt like the first day of the summer before college all over again.
Words by: Robert Cohen
Photos by: Grace Dunn