Hop Along / Speedy Ortiz
with Transcendental Telecom
The Social; Orlando, FL • May 15, 2016
by Jen Cray
Everyone loves Hop Along, so why don’t I? On paper they sound like my perfect kind of ear candy: female fronted 90’s inspired indie rock with confessional lyrics sung with emotive intensity. Even after their album (Painted Shut) failed to grab me, I stood at the foot of the stage prepared to be woo-ed by them, but woo-ed, I was not.
Frances Quinlan sings with a smile on her face and holds nothing back when she reaches for the most bold faced notes, which is endearing, but the scratchy cry of her vocals when they crack makes me grateful to be wearing ear plugs. No one else seems to hear it. The room is full to capacity and they’re all singing along with such loving sincerity that I feel like my internal tuner must have honed in on a different frequency. “Horseshoe Crabs,” a song I do admit to really liking, has the girls next to me practically tearing up as they close their eyes and sing like they’re alone in their bedrooms.
Drummer Mark Quinlan (Frances’ bro) is an animated tornado behind the kit, one whose smile and enormous laugh is infectious. In fact, the whole band has a fun hearted air that pulls me in, despite my disinterest in the music. Some music has to marinate. I’ve been simmering Hop Along for a long time now, and though it’s not yet to my taste that’s not to say it won’t ever be.
Co-headliners Speedy Ortiz opened up the show with a lackluster set that was weak compared with the one they gave Orlando a year ago when opening for Jenny Lewis. Maybe less is more with this Massachusetts noise pop band, because after awhile it all kinda blurred together. Opening with crowd pleaser “Taylor Swift” and playing their best song, “Raising the Skate” early on had them showing their hand too quickly. After that the setlist felt a bit light.
Some technical issues at the onset of their set, ironically, instilled the most life into their time onstage. When singer/guitarist Sadie Dupuis had to leave the stage to fix a broken string, drummer Mike Falcone improvised a System of a Down cover that made them sound like a whole different beast of a band — one with fiery hip hop beats and guttural vocals. Upon Dupuis’ return she demurely sipped her beer while waiting for Falcone to wrap it up. When that didn’t happen, she slowly poured said beer onto his cymbal. This unexpected bit of comic relief gave warmth to the band that otherwise felt a little cool.
Also on the bill was local genre-busters Transcendental Telecom, whose sound somehow fuses together indie, jazz, and surf rock in a pleasantly hypnotic whirl. Their set coincided with the early pre-sunset door time, painting them in a wash of Florida sunshine that perfectly accompanied their sunny psychedelic panorama of sound. Fun fact: frontman Spencer Tricker was in a band with Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis way back when, and she gave him a shout out about it during her band’s set. Indie rock love all around.