Reviews > Shows
Communion at Union Hall
Communion, the effort of Ben Lovett (Mumford & Sons), producer Ian Grimble and Kevin Jones (Cherbourg), is a collective of musicians, fans and industry folk that supply a platform for rising new artists to perform. With a residency at Union Hall the first Thursday of every month, Communion had a fantastic lineup for their August show and the small venue was packed, having sold out in advance.
Ben Lovett DJed the event and 3 special guests graced the stage including: Cold Specks, LUCE and Good Old War. Caleb Hawley kicked off the night with a surf-rock/folksy vibe, strumming an electric acoustic guitar and serenading the audience with his honeyed voice. “I’m a little nervous tonight,” he admitted to the crowd that had gathered around the stage, but his bashful charm and coy smile worked to his advantage. Hawley’s voice seemed similar to that of Citizen Cope, but the comparisons stopped there as his melodies and vocals displayed a greater musical prowess. In between songs Hawley joked with the audience and played a mellifluous version of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It” that had the singer laughing between lyrics.
The next act of the night was Aaron Lee Tasjan, who has played with The Madison Square Gardeners, Alberta Cross, Enemies! and Taurus. ALT played his electronic acoustic guitar through a fuzz pedal creating a gritty and soulful Americana meets cowpunk sound. The acoustics in the room supported the distortion well and the singer/songwriter vibrated back and forth wildly shaking his hair playing a faster, emotionally charged “Hole in the Wall.” The performer displayed a softer side on one of his slower songs, “August is a Blessing” which suited his naked cry well.
During “Streets of Galilee,” in which ALT sang and spoke to the audience in tempo, the artist asserted, tongue-in-cheek, “the last great hope of rock and roll ain’t some Barbie doll on a stripper poll.” By far, one of the best performances of the night.
Piggy-backing off of the folksy/country vibe, the next solo-artist, Aaron Embry, took to the stage with a harmonica, guitar and metronome. During the song “Your Heart and Mine” Embry asked the audience to call out “NO” declaring that the crowd would know when. On-lookers obliged him and cried vehemently whenever he sang of “broken hearts.” The song “No Go” was a beautifully eerie tune driven mostly by Embry’s howling vocals.
Surprise Performer, Cold Specks, had a massive instrument section including: Cello, Drums, Piano, Saxaphone, guitar, body guitar and Epiphone. The band was fronted by soulful singer, Al Spx, and hail from London. The music itself was skillful and when the players were in sync, created a layered and harmonious sound, however the instrumentalists didn’t seem to connect well with Spx and the sound seemed disjointed.
Vacationer went in a different direction with their sound, changing things up with syncopated piano and vibraphone. The band fed off one another, jamming fludidly, producing spacey psych-pop and dreamy melodies. Definitely the catchiest band of the night, Vacationer had the crowd dancing with, “Everyone Knows,” “Good as New,” and “Trip.” Reminiscent of Grizzly Bear and Beach House, the band remains just as tight live as they are in studio, and would be suited well by a light show, but regardless put on a crowd-pleasing performance.
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