The Hollow is a bar-restaurant-music venue in the heart of Albany’s entertainment district, centrally located on Pearl Street. Since its 2013 renovation, the Hollow has gained a reputation as a great music venue. The performance space is long rather than wide, and runs the length of the bar. The stage is small, but the sound and lights are excellent for a venue of this size. It’s a great place to catch a bite to eat, have a beer, or mosh the night away.
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Hard Soul is a local Albany band that’s been part of the music scene since 2011, regular performers at venues in the area. In 2014, they released their first full length album, Heart of Plaster, and have kept busy playing shows. At the beginning of the year they ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to complete and press their most recent EP Fairer Shores and to help fund a short tour in support of the EP, which drops on February 24th.
The show at the Hollow was the first of their current tour, and while I was familiar with Hard Soul’s music, I hadn’t had a chance to see them live before. And it turns out that they are absolutely great live. They’re a tight band, musically, and it’s clear from their performance that they’re having a great time on stage. If the band is having fun, chances are good that the crowd is having fun, too.
The crowd was having fun.
Hard Soul plays their own style of rock ‘n’ roll, a modern interpretation of a classic genre, and it’s one that’s well suited to live performance. Their set was too short by far, but they did a great job of warming up a crowd that was frozen from standing outside in the bitter cold.
If you have a chance to check them out on their mini-tour, take it, because they are a dynamic, fun act to catch live. Failing that, check out their music. They were an amazing start to a night filled with awesome music.
Check out Rob Smittix’s video interview with the band here. Hard Soul is Johnny Salka (vocals, guitar), Nick Kossor (guitar), Ryan Klaeysen (bass), Mark Podbielski (drums), and Stephen Thompson (guitar, backing vocals).
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Modern Chemistry is a fairly young band, hailing from the rich Jersey music scene. They got their start playing shows centered around the college town of New Brunswick and are working on expanding their fanbase by touring. They’re a solid band, musically, playing a fusion of alternative rock with punk vocal stylings that fit in very well with the night’s lineup.
The band is very physical, owning the stage and filling it with their presence, throwing themselves into each other like music is a full-contact sport. It’s clear that they are good friends as well as band mates, and it’s great to see the fun they’re having as they play.
At the beginning of Modern Chemistry’s set, the music was a little raw and rough around the edges, but by the end, it seemed that the band had gotten their legs under them and I was ready to listen to more.
Modern Chemistry has released two EPs. The most recent, Self Help Guide for Being Alone, dropped back in August and is well worth a listen. The band is Matt Coccaro (bass), Brendan Hourican (guitars), Jesse Slachman (drums), and Joe Zorzi (vocals, guitars).
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Usually when you go to show, you’re there for the headliner. You might enjoy the opening bands, you might buy their music or some merch, but for the most part, you’re there to see the headliner.
But sometimes, you go to a show and you’re totally surprised and blown away by one of the opening bands. The Homeless Gospel Choir is definitely that kind of act.
A folk punk acoustic one-man act from Pittsburgh, the Homeless Gospel Choir has a tremendous amount of heart, entertaining the audience with sharply witty and irreverent songs. It’s a modern continuation of the time-honored musician-as-rabblerouser tradition, blackly humorous and biting. The music is stripped down, letting the lyrics take center stage. In spite of the raw examination of politics, consumerism, and modern life in America, the Homeless Gospel Choir is surprisingly charming and easily won over the crowd.
These are not the songs of past, kumbaya-ing around a campfire with soft lighting taking the rougher edges off. These are songs of brutal honesty, words that we don’t want to hear:
So I went out and bought you this diamond ring
It came from a slave mine in Africa
Where people don’t have the choice to leave
The Holiday Song by the Homeless Gospel Choir.
The Homeless Gospel Choir is the amazing Derek Zanetti, who is the very definition of punk. Check out his music, support him by buying his music and catching him live. It is worth it.
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I’m a big fan of frnkiero andthe cellabration and I’ve seen them in NYC and New Jersey, so it was a nice change to see them at a local venue that didn’t involve a lot of travel. Each time I see them live, it amazes me how much better they’ve gotten. They’re such technically excellent musicians, so it’s great to see them continue to grow artistically as well.
This show was definitely an awesome one; as headliners, they have a longer set which allows them to incorporate more songs, like the rarely heard xmas sux (Frank’s ode to his hatred of Christmas), a non-album version of 2.5mg Ain’t Good Enough For Me, crowd favorite This Song is a Curse, and Sunsets Are For Muggings, a Leathermouth (a project both Frank and Rob were in) song. Additionally, they played Remedy, a song which they’ve debuted on this tour; hopefully it’s a song off the next album.
One of the highlights of the evening was when Derek from the Homeless Gospel Choir joined frnkiero andthe cellabration on stage to sing a cover of Jawbreaker’s Boxcar. It doesn’t get more punk than that.
I really enjoy watching a band change and evolve with their music; growth is essential in today’s musical landscape, and frnkiero andthe cellabration are certainly doing that. Even something as simple as changing their jam-session intro at the beginning of the show makes me happy, because they’re stretching their creative wings.
The Cellabration closed with Weighted. and I will never, ever get tired of hearing a crowd of people singing along with the band If we wait, it may be too late. . .
I was lucky enough to interview Frank before the show; you can find the video for that here. Frank Iero (guitar, vocals) has hijacked Evan Nestor (guitar), Rob Hughes (bass), and Matt Olsen (drums) to play in the Cellabration.
Any show in which all of the acts are great is a big win in my book. Seeing one of my favorite bands, seeing a great local band, discovering new music are all just gravy on top. What a great night!
by cardiac_in_overdrive (@cardiac_ovrdrv)