It’s always interesting to see how a singer’s voice holds up when performing live. Some vocalists just can’t quite match the sheer power or theatrics they display on recordings, an understandable if slightly disappointing occurrence brought on by long tours, suffering chords, or the lack of studio support. Fortunately, Frances Quinlan doesn’t have a problem with keeping up with her recorded self when she and the rest of Hop Along graced the Grog Shop stage Thursday, February 25.
As anyone who has heard the Philadelphia-based rock band knows, Quinlan’s vocals alternate between a booming seismic force and a soft coo. As fascinating as she sounds on recordings, her performance is even more impressive live, as she seemingly forces each word from her lungs without lacking any of the force found on albums like Painted Shut and Get Disowned.
Quinlan isn’t the only member of Hop Along that shines in a live setting. While many an article has been written about Quinlan’s vocal prowess, the rest of the instruments provide a tremendous setting for her emotive performances. Songs like “Powerful Man” show off Joe Reinhart’s ability to shred away when necessary, but watching the gangly guitarist’s furiously pick away as he side steps from the microphone toward the drum set adds an extra dimension to his performance. Mark Quinlan (brother of Frances, as you might have guessed by the name) hits his kit with a ferocity that leaves his arms in a blinding fury, testing the poor photographers trying to come away with a clear photo of the Faceless Man lookalike. All the while bassist Tyler Long adds a propulsive element to the band, keeping the band’s tunes chugging along with his thumping bass lines.
While the fierce foursome were excellent, there were a couple of negatives to the performance. The set was occasionally plagued by blasts of feedback and the obligatory drunken fan who forced her way to the front to wail her arms in what could loosely be described as a dance. While the feedback was preventable, the fan was not, so use this sentence as a reminder not to get so hammered that you distract from something as fun as a live performance from Hop Along. We at Pressure believe in you.
Even those issues were no match for Hop Along, as the band cruised through their set, ripping through plenty of gems from the band’s latest album and tossing in a few older tracks. Even if the crowd was bothered by feedback or Lady Shitfaced, they didn’t show it. Instead, they gleefully sang along to “Tibetan Pop Stars” or laughed as the band riffed between tracks. One person even asked “Frances, are you God?” While I wouldn’t go so far as to call the performance a religious experience, it was a sinfully good performance of a band adding an extra dimension to their music.
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Managing editor, fan of all things fluffy. Alex Bieler was born a large child in Parma Heights and grew up to be a large, bearded man who occasionally words good. Before he joined PressureLife, Alex was an arts and culture editor for the Erie Reader, an alternative publication in, well, Erie, Pennsylvania. Some of his more notable accomplishments including editing a book in the Library of Congress and getting butt dialed by Bill Nye the Science Guy.