In the handful of years since The Loved Ones went on their sort of indefinite hiatus (last year’s anniversary shows notwithstanding), Dave Hause hit the ground running as a solo artist, playing shows in the States and abroad as part of the Revival Tour or opening for acts like Alkaline Trio, Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly, etc. He added his younger brother, Tim, to the mix on guitar and keyboards when it came time to tour in support of his sophomore album, Devour, four years ago, and the two spent several years touring and eventually writing and recording together since.
For the release of his third album, Bury Me In Philly (February 3rd, Rise Records), Hause has assembled a full band, dubbed The Mermaid, consisting of his brother on (mostly) lead guitar, Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley’s son, Miles, on bass, fellow East-Coaster-turned-Californian Kevin Conroy on drums, and the infinitely talented Kayleigh Goldsworthy on keys and guitars and backing vocals. Prior to heading to Europe for their first official tour as a collective unit, Dave Hause and his newly formed backing band, The Mermaid, played a handful of bi-coastal US record release shows in support of his third solo album, Bury Me In Philly . The shows marked the first-ever time that Hause has performed with a full band since going it alone in the post-Loved Ones years, a very clear — yet potentially nerve-wracking — “next step” in his trajectory as a solo artist. If show #6 as a group is any sign of what’s to come, that trajectory is going to take a marked upturn in the very near future.
The quintet scorched through a sixteen-song set to a sold out crowd upstairs at the legendary Cambridge, Massachusetts, Middle East nightclub last Friday. While tracks from Bury Me In Philly took center stage in the set list, Hause’s first two solo albums were well represented in their own respective rights. It’s fair (and perhaps understated) to say that whether as a solo performer or as the leader of the family duo, the elder Hause has always taken full command of whatever stage he’s graced, engaging the crowd and performing as a full-on, band-leading frontman regardless of the setting or the size of the venue. Part of this ability stems obviously from his punk rock days, but part of it was out of necessity, as his engaging passion and honest intensity as a performer kept him from becoming a dime-a-dozen acoustic-wielding solo performer. And while Hause performing solo (or with only Tim as his accompaniment) will always be compelling, watching The Mermaid in action felt like it was meant to be.
The band gelled quickly, with no obvious signs that they’d been playing together in public for what amounts to less than a calendar week. Conroy and Bentley kept the ship steady and pushed the tempo and Goldsworthy, and accomplished musician in her own right, made her almost constantly changing duties come across almost effortless. The formation of the full band has allowed the younger Hause to take over a more prominent role, and he seems to be truly cherishing it. Tim’s immense talent and youthful energy seem not only increasingly natural on stage but inspirational to his frontman older brother, who appears to be relishing his roles as band leader and big brother in equal parts. Having a capable band at his back allows Hause to finally give older songs like “C’Mon Kid” and “Melanin” and personal favorite “Autism Vaccine Blues” the sort of the sort of full, pedal-down justice they deserve, and the five-piece genuinely seem to be having fun performing with each other in the process.
Direct support on this night (and the rest of the brief East Coast run) was provided by Vapers, a New York-based four piece (officially, though there were five on this night) outfit of semi-mysterious origin. Co-fronted by a couple of familiar faces, “Spanish Maria” Correonero and “Uncle Bernard” (the latter of whom looks eerily similar to Hause’s bud and fellow Loved One David Walsh) and backed by a couple of current and/or former members of Morning Glory, the band play a fun brand of poppy, garagey alternative punk that, at least from a sonic perspective, owes as much to the gritty, post-punk New York City (think Sonic Youth) of a decade ago as it does to the lo-fi hipster punk of present day Williamsburg. The sound is a little bit muddy and angular by design, keeping the band from sounding redundant or formulaic. Fun stuff; check them out.
Local support on this night came from the mighty Rebuilder. I’m not entirely sure what else I can tell you about Rebuilder that I haven’t told you on these pages before, but they’re obviously my favorite band to come out of this part of the States in recent memory. While no doubt capable of commanding larger stages as will someday hopefully be the case, the five-piece certainly know what they’re doing in the role of local openers. The band got down to business quickly, ripping through eight songs with little downtime, perfectly filling their half-hour slot with a set tailored to the occasion. They ran through a couple of new songs from their upcoming EP, Songs From The Massachusetts Turnpike, that may be among the strongest songs they’ve written to date. Stay tuned for more on that…
…and head below for our full photo gallery from the sold-out, sweat-soaked evening!