KXSU was fortunate enough to welcome two wonderful bands to our studio on Friday, October 28: classy openers Revel and handsome main act Hoecakes. Both are from the Seattle area, and both have released only a single EP at the moment. Hoecakes has a sound that is both chill and downright groovy. They draw heavily from neo-soul and R&B to create their own vibe that is easy going, dripping with synth, and, as my friend so eloquently put it, “dope.”
Revel succeeded too; they gave the audience a taste of angst with their shoegaze style, leaving us a little tender (in the most positive way). But, they did so just in time for Hoecakes to take over and soothe our budding existential dread, giving the show good synergy. Both bands played well and sounded great in our up-close and personal venue.
Previously, I described Revel’s sound as having a quality of “mellow angst,” and this held true for their performance on Friday. Led by vocalist and Seattle University student Tessa Rutledge, the group began with their track “Age of Pain,” a song overlaid with heavy 80s influence; from the fast, shallow drums to the steady bass (think post-punk) that proliferates throughout. This track is my favorite on their EP 2002, and was my favorite to hear live as well. “In past lives, things were so simple,” laments Rutledge in the first verse, embodying the overall mood of echoey sadness (as Revel phrases it themselves) in their work. One of the best companions for such a sadness, as the group demonstrates, is heavy guitars, and their punky instrumentals juxtaposed well with Rutledge’s light, smooth vocals throughout the set. They finished with a new track, as Tessa herself tossed handfuls of Halloween candy to the audience; a fitting act of levity to make the hand-off to Hoecakes on a high note.
The handsome Hoecakes, as I’ve taken to calling them, are a local group with a big-band sound. Their music is full of personality and easy to listen to, but I could still feel my windpipe vibrate from the sweet sound they were spinning. Hoecakes plays with a style that at times reminds me of fellow soul act St. Paul & The Broken Bones, and at other times recalls R&B like that of Erykah Badu. They seem to have found a sweet spot of simple production, some Moog-sound, and groovy guitars.
Their live sound leaned more to the R&B side, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The enhanced synthetic elements filled the ear and made the whole body resonate with the deep woop-wops on their second track (I think called “True Story,” an unreleased piece) and on “Bad for Me,” my personal favorite of their repertoire. The first two tracks that Hoecakes played were unreleased. The first was a lighthearted jam called “Demons,” which features an enticing beat and a fun synth pattern in between the vocals. Frontman Sam Choman (who has cool hair, too) started off with what I thought were the strongest vocals of the set, not to mention a great guitar solo to finish off the track. The following songs didn’t pale in comparison, either, though I did not find the final track as satisfactory as I would have expected. It sounds more like an electronic song from a dance-pop group like Lemaitre than the soul I enjoyed from the rest of Hoecakes’ work. More than anything though, that’s just a personal gripe—it was also the song that got my friends dancing the most with its upbeat guitar staccatos. Hoecakes did wonderfully with their set overall, and I even found myself a little charmed by Choman’s straight-faced banter in between songs.
KXSU had a great time with Revel and Hoecakes in the studio last Friday. Both bands kicked butt and sounded amazing, and we’re so glad they could come to visit. Watch for some great new content from these two in the future.
JOSH GEST | Mmmm, tasty. | KXSU Radio Reporter