Words and photos by Shari Fedak
Fresh on the heels of the release of their live album, ‘Hopewell Live: Vol 1’, Hopewell is currently on tour with the (pretty legendary) Dandy Warhols. Hopewell is most commonly described as psychedelic rock; although, for those of you inwardly groaning at the idea and the mental image of completely endless jams, let me assure you: Hopewell is instantly accessible. I’ve never added the genre to my list of things I enjoy (as my personal bias tends to veer to the less artful and more straightforward), but they’ve most assuredly converted me. I had the pleasure of seeing both bands at Baltimore’s Rams Head Live last Tuesday. Far and above my favorite performance of the night was their song ‘Over the Mountain’ – tons of near-tribal sounding drums and is, days later as I write this, still stuck in my head. Always a good sign in my book. Wish I had taken video – at the climax of the song, the floor of the stage was quite literally wobbling.
The set overall had a really excellent, rousing energy. I ended up a bit to the side, which was a fantastic vantage point for photography, but possibly not the best to fully appreciate the mix, which is a shame because Jason Russo’s vocals are excellent – shades of David Byrne, Richard Hell and Jonathan Richman (coincidently my personal favorites, as far as male vocalists go). If you aren’t able to make it to one of their shows on tour, I highly recommend you get the live album – it very much captures all the good moments of their live set.
Next up were the Dandy Warhols, who played an amazing set. There’s a reason why they have a cult-like following: despite the fact that it was a Tuesday, at possibly one of the least hip venues in Baltimore, they still rocked it. While at some point the set seemed a bit long for me (possibly due to the fact that it was an aforementioned Tuesday), it was still really well done – to the creepiness of ‘I Love You’ to the sing-a-long to ‘Holiday’.
It was after the actual concert, however, that was the highlight of my night – as Rams Head Live closes at about 11 and generally does not stay open for after-concert drinking, everyone who wasn’t quite ready to go home headed over to Mex, next door, which was hosting their weekly open mic night. While I’m not quite sure how this happened, eventually nearly every person who performed that night was up, at some point, on the open mic stage, with the addition of Dick Valentine from Electric Six, who, for absolutely no reason I can fathom as to why he would possibly be in Baltimore of all places, and especially at a concert on a Tuesday night.
While it was not actually confirmed it was actually Dick Valentine (perhaps there are Dick Valentine impersonators? He is pretty much the new Elvis), he was introduced as such, and at first played drums, then launched into a cover of Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’ (which I totally didn’t own on cassette as a small child (yes I did.)). I’m very certain it was actually him. I’m not even sure how anyone can just give a concert then go next door and continue to rock. It was pretty much amazing. Zia McCabe is also my new hero. That is all.
The Dandy Warhols Photos: