Must See at SXSW: Hospitality

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I became an immediate fan of Brooklyn’s Hospitality upon hearing the early EP track, “Betty Wang”, and their self-titled debut has been in constant rotation on my stereo lately. This past Sunday night, however, I finally got to see them in concert. I now must INSIST that those of you headed to SXSW make room in your schedule to check out this exceptional band.

It’s a rare treat to see a group of musicians who are able to take the sound that they’ve established in their recordings, and build it into a live sound that it exists as its own separate entity. Hospitality does this with grace and ease.

They play live as a four piece, two guitars, bass, drums and, of course, the spectacularly distinct voice of Amber Papini. On stage, her wry navigation of life in your late twenties/early thirties takes on a special new intensity.  Where her lyrics on the record vary from coming across as deceptively sharp musings to winning declarations, the live setting finds a middle ground between the two and she delivers each song with a focused performance that will leave you hanging onto every word.

And the band as a whole is incredibly tight.  Though they will be brand new to most who encounter them in Austin, the core members have been playing together since 2007.  You can feel that watching them perform.

There is a seeming effortlessness to the way they deliver songs that are actually quite intricate and you can tell that it comes from a deeply established comfort level. Even with most of the record’s nifty details (horns, piano, etc.) missing from the stage show, the band is smart enough, and seasoned enough to fill in the gaps.

In the case of the song “Friends of Friends”, lead guitarist Nathan Micheal turns what is a prominent horn part on the recording into an awesomely virtuosic guitar line. The songs pretty much all rock way harder live too which is what does the most to establish the distinction between the record and the show. Best of all though, you can see that they are all having so much fun.

The response to Hospitality’s debut has been overwhelmingly positive, and remarkably fervent. And I really think that response will become even more fervent as more people get to see them in concert. It’s rare that I walk away from what is on the surface such a basic rock/pop concert with so much excitement, but it’s such a thrill to witness a young band at the top of their game clearly having the time of their lives. And if you really think about it, there is probably nothing more exciting to watch than that.

Check out a highlight from their album here:

Hospitality – Eight Avenue by Intall Grass

Hospitality at SXSW:
Friday, March 16th at the Merge Records Showcase at Frank (4th & Colorado)
Saturday, March 17th at the Beale Street Tavern (214 E 6th Street)

Visit them on the web here.

— Marion Hodges