New Vision Church on Main St is one of those venues that truly defines the scene. With the buildings position relative to the heart of Hamilton, its age dating back over 150 years and the supportive and engaged team behind the project, the big church next to the MacNab terminal has a become a vital corner for supporters of Art in Hamilton. Since 2015 “The Music Hall” as named by New Vision has been the city’s only mid-sized venue, with its capacity between 800-1000, the closest on either side being 450, and 2100 cap venues. As such it has been able to fit in crowds for acts like Joel Plaskett, Arkells and The National. This past weekend the venue added a few new names to the list, being the host for the final tour of Toronto band Hollerado. Joining them was Hamilton-born band The Reason, and Indie act Luna Li from Toronto.
Some bands are just perfect for some venues, and I discovered Saturday that Luna Li was perfect for New Vision. The dynamics of her sound combined with the natural, open acoustics of the church were a treat for my ears, both while I was in the pit and up in the balconies. With a sound familiar to me from other similar acts in the dreamy/indie rock scene, Luna Li and her band carefully selected their sounds and tones to be absolutely appropriate for the music: not too much chorus, a healthy amount of reverb, fuzz where it was needed and a great blend between the 2 accompanying harmonic members who shared the duties of playing guitar, synth and bass. I found the slower songs to still be engaging by using interesting and not strictly diatonic chord changes, a refined use of dynamics and spot on harmonies by the 2 woman flanking Luna. When the band turned up the nuance didn’t disappear, and the songs opened up for Luna to showcase her guitar playing, taking a few fuzz-driven solos over-top of the band playing at 10. I’m also a sucker for live-looping so when Luna pulled out a violin and played a four-part violin piece over a live-looped guitar track I was sold. This band was the reason I came out to the show, having been recommended to me by some friends, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to catch a set at a beautiful venue (conveniently 5 minutes from my apartment). I was definitely impressed by the technicality of the band, and going back and listening to studio recordings after the show I’m impressed by the songwriting and lyricism as well. Luna Li is a must-see, and I’m sure she’ll be back soon, until then check her out on the social media site you like best, and whichever streaming app you use, or buy her music on Bandcamp/in real life.
My plan was to write about Luna Li exclusively seeing as Hollerado is calling it quits, but I was so impressed by their show that I wrote a few things down to share. I’m ashamed to admit I have not payed a whole lot of attention to Hollerado in recent years, although I loved their first album “Record in a Bag” and the label they started in order to release it, the band stayed in my peripherals for some time. Clad in matching Adidas tracksuits, the 4-piece (with a 5th unmentioned member) played through a catalog of hits from their 4 full lengths, the latest “Retaliation Vacation” being released in June of this year. Between the songs, witty banter was given by frontman Menno Versteeg, and quite a few f-bombs were dropped, ringing through the church walls, yet the vibe was pleasant and positive. It was evident why the band had been so successful in their 12-year stint in the music business, with an outgoing, positive energy and catchy tunes that almost everybody on the floor knew all the words to. By the time the encore rolled around, there were a good 10 people dancing on stage singing to the band performing arguably their biggest tune “Juliette”, and once the band had finished an extended, shred-fest of an ending it was all over. Although the band is done after just over a decade, they were sure to the let fans know that it was time to pass the torch. This is still a band very much involved in the scene, with their label Royal Mountain Records turning out amazing bands and artists, and their own side projects, including new band Anyway Gang, it’s safe to say this isn’t the last we’ll see of Hollerado.
Written by Levi Kertesz @levikertesz
Photography by Stephanie Montani @stephmontaniphotography