On a frigid Thursday evening in New York City, Irving Plaza witnessed the return of one of the most continually productive bands in rock music. And guess what- they’re (gulp) nice guys on top of it. Sister Hazel from Gainsville, FL is a band that reached feats of stardom in the late 1990’s into 2000, as tracks like “Champagne High,” “Change Your Mind,” and the smash hit “All for You,” played as a running soundtrack for the latter part of the decade. The songs when heard are likely to force a smile on your face, as you recall some fantastic memories from your youth. After forming nearly two decades ago, and with a huge string of success under their belts, these guys show no sign of slowing down.
Now make no mistake, the group hardly resembles a band of prototypical “rock stars.” But that’s okay with Sister Hazel, who have clearly found a comfort level in creating a harmonious, melodic kind of music that’s truly unique to them. Staying true to that sound has been crucial to their success- meshing a folksy synchronization of vocals, infused with good-time rock and roll, and a tinge of country music swagger- and perhaps that explains why their fan base follows them so faithfully. In fact, just by looking around at the crowd on this night, it’s apparent that these “Hazelnuts,” as Sister Hazel enthusiasts are known, have been long time fans, likely since high school, and have matured alongside this group of musicians, staying with them every step of the way. In fact, the band just returned from a recent “Rock Boat,” a very successful fan gathering event that they helped spawn, bringing fans and different bands together for an interactive and makeshift tour at sea.
As Irving Plaza was coming close to reaching capacity, the clock struck 10pm. The lights subsequently went down and Sister Hazel took the stage to resounding cheers, as swarms of “Hazelnuts” rushed the barricades, singing along to every word that came out of lead singer Ken Block’s mouth. As for LocalBozo.com, this was our very first Sister Hazel experience, and it felt more like being at a family reunion than it did a rock concert. When the band joked around onstage, the crowd ate it up. When the band played a lesser known crowd-favorite, the fans vociferously rejoiced. And when the band launched into a commercial hit, the place exploded. Smiles filled the room as separate groups of people merged together, jumping in unison. The size of the room simply couldn’t restrict the energy these fans were releasing.
The originally penned 75 minute set, quickly turned into over 90 minutes, as the band seemingly fooled everyone and jumped out for an extended encore. Jams like “Your Winter,” which featured an awesome breakdown into “Hotel California” and a tremendous Hazel Medley, unexpectedly kept the crowd on their toes, before “All for You,” and “Change Your Mind” forced them to leave their feet in celebration. Sister Hazel is just that type of band. They make you happy and they include you, the fan, in the performance. The band has created a family with their fan base and consistently deliver exactly what their rabid fans want, both on stage and off.
Sister Hazel frontman Ken Block took some time before the show at Irving Plaza to sit down with LocalBozo.com. Watch the video as we discuss how the band has matured throughout the years, their loyal fan base, and playing here in New York City. If you want to see an honest to goodness rock band, who know and appreciate their roots, then look no further than Sister Hazel.
Not familiar with Sister Hazel? Tracks You Must Hear Now:
All for You, Champagne High, Change Your Mind, Happy, Shame, Swan Dive, Your Winter, Stay A While
- Alan Smithee & Jane Van Arsdale