Hail the Sun
September 30, 2019 at Brighton Music Hall
A night of passion, excitement, and action greeted Boston on Monday evening as Hail the Sun arrived in Boston for their headline tour, accompanied by VIS, Strawberry Girls, and Royal Coda. The small crowd was scattered about, some alongside the walls while others were already eagerly in front of the stage. Bars adorned each side of Brighton Music Hall, and neon lights glowed against the brick walls and on stage.
VIS was the first band to start off the show. Despite the singer’s antics with his dancing and the sequential rhythm of the rest of the band, this reggae band failed to capture the audience’s full attention. They nodded along to the contagious beat of the drum, but it was evident that nobody there was too blown away by their stage presence, with neither the vocals nor instruments overall striking or unique.
Royal Coda went on stage next. The band took a good moment to get fully tuned in front of the anticipating audience. Vocalist Kurt Travis’ coarse vocals coincided with guitarist Sergio Medina’s wonderfully melodic guitar rhythm as he skillfully alternate picked each note and played impressive scales per solo. The band made sure to play their most well-known song, “Numbing Agent,” which was well-received by the audience, evident in their awakened enthusiasm of applause.
Strawberry Girls (and no, nobody in the band was a girl) built up the suspense before headliner Hail the Sun made their main appearance. They also took significant extra time to tune, likely because they are solely instrumental. The group pleasantly amazed the audience with their phenomenal instrumental coordination, diverging from groovy tunes such as “Spanish Bay” to the signature trills of “Volcano Worship.” It nearly seemed impossible after their set for the headliner to match their level of energy.
The stage darkened, and a couple fans cheered as Hail the Sun’s vocalist Donovan Melero made his appearance amid flashing red lights. Guitarists Shane Gann and Aric Garcia backed him up with low, mellow riffs for “Rolling Out the Red Carpet,” before the drums kicked in and the entire band shifted to full gear. Melero grinned at the audience as they screamed even louder, making sure to maintain eye contact with the audience throughout the whole song. The audience spanned from teenagers to grown adults, each person engaged in the feeling of the music and releasing their inner emotions, allowing their bodies to be free.
It was evident that the passion was alive in the band’s spirits as Melero leapt around onstage, singing into the mic and out to the audience as every song scaled the more upbeat side of the spectrum. Gann captivated his true guitar-playing skills in hits such as “Cosmic Narcissism.”
In a surprising twist, the lighting dimmed once more as Melero swapped places with a member, opting to now play the drums. People let out exclamations once this exchange was evident. The band played the tour’s namesake Mental Knife, with Melero drumming while singing/screaming into a hovering mic above the set. He continues this routine for a couple more songs before returning to solely being the vocalist.
The band kept the audience feeling the adrenaline of their playing with the ongoing solos, with bassist John Stirrat establishing the root of all the noise. The crowd sang along to the lyrics of “Relax/Divide” as the band briefly slowed down. When the band neared the end of their set, people as old as their late 30s crowd-surfed toward the front of the gates. Indifferent guards hauled them over and forced them to retreat. Only two fans succeeded in leaping onstage, headbanging and dancing in time to the beat before hurling themselves back into the crowd.
When the band finished and walked off stage, the crowd slowly began to chant, “One more song! One more song!”
Suddenly, the stage lights glowed once more, and the audience eagerly yelled enthusiastically as the band re-emerged.
“We would love to play one more song for you, Boston. Thank you so much,” Melero announced, before the band played a few more singles made for rocking out to.
With the combination of incredible musicians each contributing their part, Hail the Sun’s Boston date seemed to charm the small community of Boston concert-goers. Although Melero’s vocals were overpowered at times by his bandmates, it is clear that the band will continue to put effort in their upcoming shows.