A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
June 16, 2014
Concert Review: Delta Rae at Music Hall of Williamsburg
When you’ve spent as much time as I have reviewing shows over the years, it is often a challenge to be thoroughly impressed by any live act. That’s what made Monday evening’s performance at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg so utterly mind-blowing. A Durham, North Carolina band that has somehow remained out of my musical consciousness put on one of those concerts that as a concertgoer and as a New Yorker, you couldn’t help but feel fortunate to have been a part of the experience. Despite playing for just over an hour, the collective Delta Rae put on one of the most surprisingly excellent live concerts that I can ever remember having seen from a band of virtual unknowns. And it’s something that their existing fans that flocked to the rock club seemed to have known for far longer than I.
To their credit, the band has seemed to have found a following in New York City, despite their southern roots. Having worked their way up from the very bottom- playing empty shows at Rockwood Music Hall‘s two stages, then Mercury Lounge, then Bowery Ballroom and now in Williamsburg- the collective six piece has surely paid their dues on their way to this point. Their skilled musicianship lies mostly in the dynamic between their four main components- two males and two females, three of which are siblings. The band’s fourth member Elizabeth Hopkins, though not a blood relative, brings as spirited a female vocal as you’ll hear and paired with the higher pitched Brittany Holljes, brings out some truly beautiful harmonies. The songwriters meanwhile- Eric and Ian Holljes- have equally as versatile vocal capabilities which allow any of the four members to handle solo duties at any time. And when they aren’t dueling in melodies, they are taking turns playing guitars, keys or walloping a massive drum head rhythmically in the center of the stage.
Currently touring on their “Chasing Twisters” EP released back in November, the band is working on their sophomore follow up to 2012′s “Carry the Fire,” from which several new tracks were unveiled for the live crowd in Brooklyn. Lead vocals vary from track to track- the energetic “Run” kicked the show off in tremendous fashion paced by Brittany Holljes’ on lead allowing the band to showcase their high octane, foot stomping folk style. Eric leads much of the way through the slower “Morning Comes” and brother Ian took center stage during an acappella cut from the band’s forthcoming record, where the entire band eschewed the use of microphones and instruments as the mesmerized crowd remained silent and appreciative in the midst of their folksy vocals.
Though the cover of Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith‘s iconic “Because the Night” was outstanding, it was surprisingly not the evening’s most shining moment. Instead, it was the originally written “If I Loved You” which took firm hold of that esteem. Hopkins’ remarkable vocals rallied the live crowd through a phenomenal rendition of the group’s most recent single- a revelatory performance of the band functioning at their cohesive best. Other tracks like the witching and defiant “I Will Never Die” and show closer “Dance in the Graveyard” were also particularly rousing crowd-pleasers- with the show building to an overhead crescendo of clapping hands.
Patriotism remained at a fever pitch in Brooklyn long after the US Men’s Soccer Team had defeated their World Cup opponents Ghana earlier in the day and chants of “Delta Rae, U.S.A” rang out toward the incredulous band many times throughout their stellar performance. Responding in kind with “we gotta come back to Brooklyn,” the band continually repeated their appreciation for the especially vocal City crowd on this night, acting a bit caught off-guard with such praise. But in reality, it was this writer who was caught off-guard. As I alternated between marveling at each performer and dancing around in a frenzy with the crowd that surrounded me, I remained entirely blown away by a multi-talented group of young musicians who reinforced for me what it means to have fun at a live concert.
- Jane Van Arsdale