I posted a Facebook note on Sunday night saying I was off to watch Hockey, my Canadian friend wrote back and said she hoped her country could win! Doh, wrong Hockey. I was of course off to watch the band in the Academy.
I first saw Hockey at Oxegen in 2009. It sounds harsh to say it but I only really went to see them cos they were in a tent and it was pissing down outside. But like a lot of things that occur in that fashion I’m glad it happened. I remembered them being energetic, having a pretty good sound and good presence, if, at the time looking a little too much like MGMT for my liking.
Anyway, fast forward to last Sunday’s show in the Academy and I’m glad to say they had the same energy and swagger, mostly emanating from effervescent frontman Ben Grubin.
They kicked off their set in a sadly not sold out Academy with the catchy mid-tempo ‘Work’, not something you want to be reminded about on a Sunday night, so I’m glad they got that one out of the way early doors!
That only half caught the crowds interest, they moved on to ‘Learn to Lose’ that lifted it a notch but I don’t think the crowd fully tuned in until the band went for the beautifully crafted ‘4 Holy Photos’. A song that swings from Bob Dylan to the Byrds and back. I liked this style of track from Hockey, and hope that they explore this more harmonic side a bit more, but as they proclaim themselves, they make party music, house party dance tracks if you will, and have been since 2002 as they mention in the lyrics to ‘Wanna be black’. So I’m not holding out hope for a modern day ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ anytime soon.
The temperature and the energy steadily rise from Hockey as they go through the numbers from the album, Mind Chaos and a couple of new ones, pushing out tracks with sounds reminiscent of Vampire Weekend, and The Strokes along the way.
They worked the crowd well and lifted a pocket of them so much that a couple of kids got carried away, burst through security and ‘stormed’ the stage. All very funny as one little dude grabbed the mic and belted out the chorus to the retrospective ‘Wanna Be Black’.
The bands best numbers came out, towards the end of the set, ‘Too Fake’ and ‘Song Away’ were received with raptures from the crowd, who were fully into it now.
They finished with ‘Curse This City’, which made for a pretty good crescendo, but it’s not nearly their best tune.
The problem with Hockey I think is that they have limited appeal. Think about the bands mentioned that, to my ears, Hockey sound like, Vampire Weekend, MGMT and the Strokes. All bar the Strokes have probably been around half the time that Hockey has but no one says ‘yeah, Vampire Weekend, they sound a bit like Hockey?’
Shame really, I like Hockey, but like the game with sticks, people give it a go for a while, but only the diehards keep playing it. A good solid gig, not a mind-blowing experience, but yeah, good.