Barely 100 people filed into Fitzgerald's downstairs quarters Thursday night for HURT's acoustic performance. It was warm, and the fans overhead served only to circulate the air around the room as members of the crowd conversed amongst themselves between songs. Onstage, meanwhile, the Virginia-born, Los Angeles-based five-piece HURT cooed to the crowd for an hour and a half, occasionally teasing fans and themselves throughout the night.
And, after admitting that there wasn't any way to ask without sounding "lame," vocalist J. Loren asked everyone in attendance to "like" HURT on Facebook.
Though it was undersized, the crowd made sure that its enthusiasm was heard, chanting along to lyrics and swaying in rhythm with the bass and percussion that laid a perfect backdrop to Loren's singing and acoustic guitar. Their set had enough energy to keep fans' attentions for an hour and a half, but it also had its intimate moments, the kind you would expect during an acoustic set.
Forty minutes in, just as the crowd seemed to be getting a little too chatty, "Rapture" pulled the crowd out of its collaborative unrest. From 2006's critically-acclaimed but commercially-overlooked Vol. 1 "Rapture" is quite the food for thought, lyrically. In it, Loren first speaks softly then screams at a young woman who is so consumed with her faith that she can't see anything else - "Why are we stuck in this pantomime fearing a god who died? ...And I don't care what they say. If what you need is your faith, then take a look at my face and know. Find, in me, the room to breathe."
A minute into the song, it sounds as if it should crescendo. But just then, everything drops. Instead of exploding into a sing-songy chorus, which it very well could, Loren's voice becomes soft and raspy as an acoustic guitar is picked in the background. Eventually, it builds up into a climax a few seconds later, but in the fashion of Tool, HURT makes you wait for it, which makes it all the more satisfying when you eventually get it.
Musical foreplay, if you will.
Perhaps this music just isn't quite accessible enough for most people. If that isn't the case, we can't figure out why so few people were in attendance Thursday night. And we don't mean that in a finger-pointing, disparaging way; it's more bewilderment than anything. Because these guys are quite the talented bunch, and while their music doesn't completely fall in line with any one genre, it's pleasing enough on first listen (and even better when repeated) that we wonder how it hasn't struck a chord with more people.
C'est la vie, we suppose.
The members of HURT are hardly fledgling musicians, and they aren't new to the music industry either. The band has been around since 2000, and they have been signed to a small label since 2006. But judging from last night's attendance, we can't help but wonder how much revenue they're bringing in on this tour.
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We hope it's enough, because it sure would be nice to see them again.
Personal Bias: Their sound ain't cookie-cutter, but it's definitely rock and roll, which is what caught our ear in the first place.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Did he just say, 'This is my brother, Brett Favre in your face'?" (What he actually said: "This is my brother, Rek Mohr on the bass.")
Random Notebook Dump: Vocalist J. Loren has a musical background, but when he was young and lived with his mom and dad, rock and roll was not allowed in their household. Careful what you tell your kids NOT to do, parental units.