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Review: Sing the Body steps up
REVIEW BY JASON GENEGABUS / firstname.lastname@example.org
It really was an evening of contrasts at The Republik as local indie rock duo Sing the Body celebrated the release of their aptly titled new album, “Contrast,” on Saturday, Jan. 12.
Zachary Shimizu and Elijah Oguma are the worthy recipients of a major co-sign by BAMP Project, the promoter brains behind the team at 1349 Kapiolani Blvd. While a number of local bands have headlined at The Republik since it opened last year via outside promoters (e.g. The Green, The Deadbeats, Ekolu, Kimie Miner, Pepper), Sing the Body was the first band the venue itself decided to elevate to headliner status.
What does that mean? For Sing the Body, it got them a full week of stage access before the gig for rehearsals. Instead of a partial lighting setup, they got to play with all the toys at The Republik’s disposal — and there are some cool lighting and video elements available. The guys also got a significant promotional push in advance of the show.
Still, all that hype only drew a few hundred fans to see an enthusiastic performance of some of the best indie rock Hawaii has to offer. Compare that to just the night before, when Alabama Shakes packed about 1,000 people into the same space.
While BAMP has reaffirmed its mission time and time again to “educate the music public” and not worry about making a profit on some of the shows it produces, it’s a little embarrassing to see a ton of hard work and the backing of Honolulu’s rock radio station produce a crowd that size.
Shimizu and Oguma deserved better, but true to form, they spent plenty of time during their set thanking the fans who were there and expressing surprise (really?) that “so many people” turned out to support them. No mainland-style rock star egos were in play here, that’s for sure.
Another huge benefit to headliner status at The Republik? You get to perform for a really long time. Instead of the 15- or 20-minute sets typically afforded to local opening acts, Sing the Body got about two hours on Saturday, plus a short intro video that featured interviews with Shimizu, Oguma and some of their biggest supporters.
The additional stage time, paired with the CD release party premise, turned the night into a listening party of sorts. Fans got to hear nearly all the band’s newest material in the order it appears on “Contrast.” Shimizu’s guitar-shredding abilities were front and center on “PBJY” and “Lovers & Friends,” while Oguma did what he does best: make it sound like three or four people are playing — but it’s just him!
“Sideways,” “See it Run” and “Under Eyed Child” were also worth seeing live, especially when Sing the Body had a few friends ready and waiting to jump in and turn things into a full-blown jam session with seven people rocking out on stage. It was also nice to see Chris Chorney playing cello and Killin Reece playing lap steel guitar on stage at The Republik, with Shimizu even plugging in an ukulele for a song.
With all the good vibes going on that night, it was easy to overlook a few shortcomings, but they were there. Chalk it up to nerves or the adrenaline rush of performing in the headliner slot, but Shimizu’s and Oguma’s vocals were all over the place. Extended breaks between songs, while necessary to get Shimizu’s various guitars set up and plugged in, also seemed to kill the momentum at times.
The sound mix and volume levels at The Republik on Saturday also made it incredibly difficult to understand and enjoy what was being performed, to the point where I needed to listen to an actual CD copy of “Contrast” (and ask the band’s management to provide a copy of the set list) to confirm which songs were played. And while the duct tape decor near the front door and on all the speakers on stage to match the show’s promotional materials was fitting, the lack of any significant digital visual effects to take advantage of the huge screen behind The Republik’s stage was disappointing.
Some might call it nitpicking, but after a week of rehearsals you have to set the bar just a little higher, in my opinion.
In the end, it was a fun night of music with a band that deserves all the positive attention and recognition they’ve received in recent months. Opening sets by Mano Kane’s Chris Chorney and Kate Greennagel, Erin Smith (of Maui’s The Throwdowns) and Joni Llamedo only served to reconfirm that Honolulu has plenty of talent worth supporting.
Now we just need more people to pay attention and actually show up when promoters work hard to put together shows like this.